A study by Dr Jordan Grafman of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Maryland (US) says that violent films and computer games are numbing the brains of teens, making them desensitised to violence. Grafman goes on to suggest that repeated exposure to such material makes teens less likely to feel emotion in certain situations. It’s obviously a big jump to then suggest that teens will engage in acts of violence as a result of aggressive exposure but it is reasonable to suggest, I think, that they will become more accepting of violent behaviour.
In a similar vein, here’s a small passage from Future Minds…
So what will happen when non-biological objects (e.g. toys) start to blur the traditional boundary between the real and the unreal? What happens when pre-school toys start to realistically imitate many of the characteristics that were previously the sole domain of human beings? For example, would it be appropriate for a child to form a stronger relationship with a phone than a parent?
Or what about what happens when teens form stronger relationships with inanimate objects that are pretending to be living things? What happens to social skills when young adults spend more time alone with digital friends than with real people?
Perhaps such activities will lead to a slow decline in the understanding broad context? Or perhaps the use of digital technology will lead to a reduction in empathy for others. Probably both. In a sleepy town in Australia, for example, there was a recent case where a 15-year-old boy was killed at school after a lunchtime dispute turned into a vicious attack. At the time of writing the precise reason for the attack remained unclear although the boys mother did make a rather telling remark. “It’s like they feel less somehow. They’re so hooked on machines and gadgets and electronic games that it’s diminished their ability to interact with other people.”