Wasting Time Online

A 2010 study completed by the Kaiser Family Foundation as reported in the New York Times suggests that kids are wasting time online.  And the study found that kids from poor families waste more time on the computer (11.5 hours a day) than kids from families of means (10 hours a day). And this was 2010; imagine what the usage data looks like in 2012. A poor kid was defined as one who comes from a family where the parent or parents do not have a college degree.  One of the reasons posited for this “digital divide” as the New York Times pens it is that poorer kids have less supervision because their parents don’t know much about computers.  It’s not that families from lower socioeconomic backgrounds don’t have access to technology, but rather they don’t have access to digital literacy education.

This is somewhat alarming and speaks to an addiction.  Facebook is one of the main culprits and of course video gaming.  I’m not a kid, but if I didn’t have a job and some supervision at home, I’d play Angry Birds all day.  Some kids waste the weekend away playing video games and are like zombies on Monday. I guess it’s better than wasting away in Margaritaville.  And with all the drugs and violence on the streets, I guess playing a violent video game is better than being the victim of violence, unless the exposure leads to violent behavior, a grim thought. I’m not sure that it does.  Have you ever heard of the Grand Theft Auto defense?  And of course no jury has ever bought that violent cartoons like Popeye and Roadrunner caused one to commit assault and battery.

But it’s not just kids who are wasting time online.  I’m sure there are studies linking technology use to lost productivity on the job as countless people combine the personal with work on their mobile devices endlessly checking Facebook updates, stock tickers, emails and sports scores. I can remember a time at work before smart phones and the Internet when people actually smoked cigarettes at their desks.  “Times they are a changing”, wrote and sang Bob Dylan, a recent recipient of the Presidential medal of honor and it still rings true.

What’s the solution?  The article mentions digital brigades to educate parents so that they can provide better supervision of their kids online activities.  This is a good idea, but I have a few that are more extreme:

1. Facebook Freeze.  It would work sort of like a breathalizer that keeps the inebriated from driving. After say 1 hour of Facebook use, the user is logged out and can’t log back in until the next day.

2. Online Free Holidays.  The government could promote computer free holidays, maybe even giving a tax break to families to build roads or go fishing.

3.  Roll Back Time.  Make everybody live a week in the 70’s before computers, the Internet and mobile phones.  Kids would have a choice between Pong and Pac Man.  For music, it’d be either an 8 track or records – the rich kids could to listen to stuff on Reel to Reel.  And no energy drinks –  just Tang and Ovaltine.


3 Responses

  1. Guilty as charged!

  2. Lol, me too.

  3. Who’s wasting time online? pum da dum dum da da da da…

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