The effect of video games on the health of young people

New Communication Technology – Online Essay

Does the extensive use of computer/video games have an adverse impact on the health of young people. What are the most recent papers? Clarify what all sides of the argument claim and only then offer your reasoned opinion based on facts.

The impact of video games on young people’s health has been a popular topic of discussion since the rise of video games in the 1980s. A substantial amount of attention is generated about the negative effects that playing video games can have. However, there have also been significant proven positive effects.  This essay will examine both the positive and negative effects that video games can have on teenagers. Negative effects of video games are caused by addiction and reactions to violent video games. A combination of research suggests that there is a strong relationship between violence in the media and real-world aggression. Whereas, games designed to train and educate provide users with ongoing positive effects. Medical video games have helped patients rehabilitate themselves as well as motivated them towards goal achievement.

To understand how video games can have an adverse impact on the health of young people it is important to define several key concepts. Computer game addiction can be defined as excessive or compulsive use of video games where the individuals’ daily life is interfered with (Weinstein 2010, p.268). Users isolate themselves from society and disengage from various forms of social contact, seeking satisfaction and reward from the challenges presented in their faux-reality. This must not be confused with the amount of time that the gamer spends playing games, and rather on how this gaming affects other areas of their life. Video games also have a strong link to the negative effects that violent television and movies produce. Both these mediums regularly depict violence and aggression and causal and correlational links with real behaviour have been discovered. Aggression is the behaviour which is intended to harm another individual who is trying to avoid such harm. Extreme acts of aggression such as physical assault and murder are referred to as acts of violence. These types of games are the most promoted and consumed video games, however there are educational, sports, and strategic games on the market. A combination of experimental, cross-sectional correlational, longitudinal and empirical research suggests that there is a strong relationship between media violence and real-world aggression. This can be seen in various crime sprees over the last 3 decades such as the Columbine High School massacre (1999) and the Virginia Tech massacre (2007). Anderson (2004, p.114) states that violent video games increase aggressive thoughts, feelings, behaviours, arousal and decreased helping behaviours. This creates an embrace and dependence on the distortion of reality that these games create. The relationship between virtual self and real self provides satisfactions and social relationships which may be hard to cultivate in real life.

There are also numerous physical effects that arise from video game addiction. Most frequently, these include described cases of “Pacman’s Elbow” or “Space Invaders Revenge (Weinstein 2010, p.268) where gamers suffer skin, joint and muscle problems from repetitive strain. It is also prudent to consider the effects that addictions to videos game can cause. This addiction can be attributed to a compensation for deficiencies in ordinary life. In a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American children spend over six hours per day watching and playing video games and television but do not meet the recommended level of one hour of physical play per day. This has led to concerns that video game addiction is becoming a leading cause of childhood obesity and self-image problems.

On the other hand, the development of video games to improve health care and education services has seen numerous positive effects on patients. Basic computer games have been created to focus on education and training rather than entertainment. These have targeted both the improvement of patients’ health as well as educating doctors and medical students on certain skills. Particular video games skills are being focussed on as there is evidence that avid players have shown enhanced visual spatial performance, hand-eye coordination and fine motor control, all of which are critical skills required for successful surgical procedures.  When looking at the positive effects on patients, gamers often engage in these types of video games to experience a distractional and motivational effect. This allows gamers, especially children, to experience catharsis; the release of tension and fears in a safe environment (Kato 2010, p.113). Other positive effects of playing this style of video game include the motivation of patients to participate in physical activity through an innovative interface. More specifically, joystick control and movement has helped therapeutically for arm injuries, while racing style games have been used as physical therapy for patients in wheelchairs or suffering spinal cord injuries.  Results showed that patients were able to reach fitness and mobility goals and approached medical treatments with happier attitudes. This style of game, referred to as an “exergame” encourages interactive physical activity and combines challenging quests with exercise. This style of game was found to be more appealing and motivational to gamers who considered themselves “sedentary” and did not enjoy typical forms of exercise.  Medical video games can also provide a method of pain management where alternate realities are created in which the patient does not experience their physical symptoms. These tailor-made games were targeted towards sufferers of burns, asthma, cancer and breast health issues. To find out more about how video games are being used in medicine, click here.

Positive effects can also be seen in educational video games. Students benefitted from innovative and interactive teaching methods. In particular, children and adolescents can be taught reading skills, mathematical skills and creative skills by playing educational games. This style of game is also beneficial to businesses that use educational video games to engage employees and develop work-specific job skills. For example, the US military uses video games to simulate and train combat skills while attempting to increase recruitment.

In conclusion, adverse impacts on the lives of youths is primarily due to the effect that violent video games and media has on youths but not the entire genre of video games. While the reputation of video games remains negative due to the popularity of violent games, there are alternatives which aim to improve critical functional skills such as hand-eye coordination and visual-spatial awareness. Gamers can only be assessed by the type of game they are playing and not by a generalisation of the type of media. This article is a good summary of some of the most prominent positive and negative effects of video games.



Weinstein, AM 2010, ‘Computer and video game addiction—a comparison between game users and non-game users’, The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, vol. 36, pp.268-276, DOI: 10.3109/00952990.2010.491879

Anderson, CA & Bushman, BJ 2001, ‘Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: a meta-analytic review of the scientific literature’, Psychological Science, vol. 12, p.353, DOI: 10.1111/1467-9280.00366

Anderson, CA 2004, ‘An update on the effects of playing violent video games’, Journal of Adolescence, vol. 27, pp. 113-122, DOI: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2003.10.009

Kato, PM 2010, ‘Video games in health care: closing the gap’, Review of General Psychology, vol. 14, no. 2, pp.113-121, DOI 10.1037/a0019441

Anderson CA, et al. 2012, ‘Video games: good, bad or other?’, Pediatrics Clinics of North America, vol. 59, no. 3


Essay Topic Discussion (Week 7)

This post is a brief discussion about the two essay topics I’m debating between. The two topics are:

Does the extensive use of computer/video games have an adverse impact on the health of young people. What are the most recent papers? Clarify what all sides of the argument claim and only then offer your reasoned opinion based on facts.

Choose a cyberpunk story or movie. Compare the economic and social world it conjures with the real world today. How close is this imagined world to our world and are we moving towards the imagined world or away from it?

The first topic is interesting in a scientific and medical way. There are many studies, both medical and psychological, into the effects that video games have on developing brains and the affect it has in the long term for adults. So the depth of previous knowledge and research into this topic is extensive. And to this point, there are many opinions that both support and reject the effects of video games.

The second topic offers what I see as an easier approach to the assignment. Comparing a cyberpunk movie to real life is easy. Prediction where we are heading as a society is also somewhat simple. The problem with this topic is that there may be no conclusive research and statistics and revolves around theories and opinions.

Therefore, I have chosen to investigate the effects that video games have and do have on the health of young people in particular. This topic allows me to explore the question from several angles. The vagueness of the term “young” people allows me to discuss early brain and skills development 0-4 years as well as the effects on social skills for teenagers. Defining what young means is like knowing the length of the proverbial piece of string. To this extent I will discuss the pros and cons of video games on their uses at various ages of their life.

I will also be investigating the effects of ongoing use of video games rather than sporadic phases in a young person’s life. Can video games be used to educate people? Can they be used to improve certain skills? What are video games being used for in the fields of science, medicine and research? This allows me to compare sources both aged and recent on the various studies relating to video game use.

Finally, I will be discussing the concept of using video games as simulators for training and education. Can video games in the form of a simulator help to prepare the user for success in their chosen field? What have video games previously been used for in this way?

As this post is being written I have not conducted any research into the point addressed above. However, I have outlined a plan for the structure of the assignment (which I just explained).

Looking forward to finding some interesting and provocative arguments!!

Catch you later cats and kittens,

Anneleise xx

Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock and roll. (Week 7)

Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock and roll. – SHIGERU MIYAMOTO

Video games are a popular social medium in developed civilisations today. They are laced with exceptionally real characters, incredible graphics and plots which we can only dream of. Video games, like many other popular forms of entertainment, provide a way to escape from reality and become someone else; whether it be a gangster shooting hookers in Grand Theft Auto or an Alien hunter in Halo. The possibilities for video games are endless and are even becoming an important tool for educational purposes. My first video game…

However, narrowing down a favourite game is hard as I have been through various stages of my life in which I was obsessed with certain games. Pokemon, SSX,  Tamagotchi, Ray, Nintendogs, MarioKart, Frogger, Diner Dash, Feeding Frenzy, Star Surprise, Penguin Skate, NeoPets, The Crimson Room, various Barbie games, Guitar Hero and Lego World all featured up there for a while. I suppose you could same my favourite and most puzzling is “The Crimson Room.” The computer game is a strategy based game where you must find your way out of rooms by discovering clues and tools that will aid your escape. It’s difficult and requires the player to think creatively. I feel like rather than a “meaningless” game where you just kill or collect things or finish a quest, you are exercising strategic planning.

In the past, I could definitely have called my self a “gamer.” Someone who spends considerable time playing games for their own benefit or profit. I was obsessed and determined to finish every game. And would even play the games over and over again to achieve different and better results. This was satisfying in my success, but also very frustrating when I finished every game and had nothing left to achieve. The allure of each game was the impossibility and the challenge of the tasks. I keep calling it an “obsession” because I spent so much time playing these games. I was addicted. Every spare moment would be spent traversing the imaginative world’s that these games created for me. I would print out tips and cheats and discuss my progress with my friends. It was highly competitive and a phenomenon. Although I may have grown-out of this addiction and moved on to more engaging enterprises, my brother is still chained firmly in the realm of his video game obsession. Our family tries to understand how he can sit for hours on end completely enthralled by the screen without getting bored or restless. It is as if he shuts down and goes into his own world where real life has no meaning and time is irrelevant. But it is not just the game that attracts him. While it may be exciting to win the games and achieve the tasks, it’s the social element as well. My brother communicates with his friends and uses it in a similar way that I use instant messaging and phone communication. With the advanced platforms and capabilities of video games today, gamers are able to chat and type as if they would if they were to make a phone/video call. And they can do all this, amidst the action of the game.

At this stage of addiction, video games can have adverse affects on its users. Increased participation in online gaming realities diminishes users’ social skills and face-to-face communication skills. Most video games also require a motionless component- that is they use a controller whilst staying still to operate their on-screen character. This discourages children from partaking in physical exercise that will improve their health and wellbeing. However, there are some game consoles, like Wii, which are designed to encourage and include physical movements whilst playing.

I don’t think there is a definitive answer to whether video games are either good or bad. It really depends on the extent of the person’s invested time and the actual content of the game. For my essay I will be researching and exploring both sides of the argument about the benefits and adverse effects of video games.

Catch you later cats and kittens,

Anneleise xx

Politics and The Internet (Week 6)

This week’s first task was to test our own political involvement by taking part in several sub-tasks on the internet. The first of these was to sign an e-petition. I chose one that I feel very strongly about and which I have quite an informed opinion. I have numerous gay and lesbian friends, who I believe are as normal as anyone else and should not be discriminated against in any way due to their sexual preferences. Some of my best friends are homosexual and it breaks my heart to see their possibilities limited and their quality of life lessened by outdated laws and policies and ignorant human beings. The e-petition I signed was in defence of Civil Unions and can be found on page two of the Current e-Petitions page on the Queensland Parliament website.

The second task was to respond to a professional blogger at a major news site. I contacted the ABC’s chief political news correspondent Simon Culler regarding his article Bowen signs Nauru processing agreement. The article outlines the Labor Party’s dramatic shift towards asylum seekers. “From now on, anyone arriving in Australia by boat will get “no advantage” over other asylum seekers means those sent to Nauru can expect a long wait” (Scott Morrison in Culler 2012). The policy marks a firm stance against asylum seekers who traverse dangerous seas to get to Australia. I sent Mr Culler a brief comment stating the following:

“Dear Mr Culler,

I am writing in regards to your article on the ABC news website ‘Bowen signs Nauru processing agreement.’ As a young Australian who is only recently exercising her political rights and cultivating an interest in the acts of the Government, I believe political reporting such as yours is a powerful education tool. Political articles such as this one make understanding the political state of affairs much simpler. 

Furthermore, although it may not be of any concern or interest to you, I want to express my support of the current asylum seeker policies and Nauru processing agreements. As Scott Morrison said, “no advantage” should be given to those arriving by boat. Each claim by either refugees or asylum seekers should be assessed appropriately and not rushed, and these ‘international guests’ need to understand that for Australia to uphold its integrity and reputation as a welcoming country, delays may be incurred. If these people are so desperate to seek asylum on our shores, they should show respect and gratitude that they are being given a place to live, even if it is in a detention centre. I want to clarify that I am not opposed to those seeking asylum; many Australians who have come from overseas are a credit to the diversity of the Australian culture. 

Please continue to write engaging and informative news articles about pertinent world political affairs, and spread the praise you have received for doing so.

Kind Regards,

Miss A Woodman”

The third task was to investigate what Barack Obama is “up to today” and send him a message about the importance of freedom on the internet. I am opposed to participating in this task as I believe that Barack Obama’s intentions with regards to internet freedoms are of minimal concern to the Australian public and my close networks; that is, his immediate choices and policies with regards to this issue do not concern me. However, I do understand that due to the close relationship that Australia and the USA share, his policies will undoubtedly influence the Australian laws. The specific question of the task was whether or not you can communicate directly with Barack Obama. The White House provides a comprehensive Contact Us website which includes a submission form for questions and comments, an online forum, an address for written letters and a number to call.

Fourth on the list was to find out when the NBN (National Broadband Network) would be coming to your area of residence (Australia only) and its benefits. The image below shows that no work has commenced in my area to implement the NBN. However, work has commenced 10 minutes away at the brown “C” marker. To find out whether the NBN is coming to a place near you soon type your postcode into the Rollout Map.

So what exactly is the NBN? It is a new broadband network designed for Australia’s future needs which show that online experience is becoming richer and more rewarding but more data intensive. “Radio broadcasters took 38 years to reach an audience of 50 million. Television took 13 years. The internet took just four.” It will comprise of three technologies – optic fibre, fixed wireless and next-generation satellites to provide widespread reliable and high-speed broadband which is accessible by all Australians. The reform will introduce uniform national wholesale pricing ensuring that every community has access to high-speed broadband at competitive prices. This results in a fairer infrastructure and better services for recreational and business use. The new reform will bring Australia up to speed with some of the world’s most advanced countries. Currently, Australia’s dependence on ageing copper telecommunications networks mean that our broadband performance lags in comparison. The rollout represents a leap in the not only the speed, but quality of broadband access and improve and meet the steps in the comprehensive plan to prepare Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure for the future. The NBN will also modify the way healthcare and education are delivered to regional and remote areas; allowing people to access more information and services online. All these changes will ensure that high-speed broadband will promote efficiency, productivity and new opportunities for businesses, improving logistics and creating new working environments and methods.

For more comprehensive information please visit the NBN Website and this Opportunities Fact Sheet.

NB:// All information was taken from the following reference: Australian Government Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy 2012, NBN – National Broadband Network, viewed 2 September 2012, < >


Social MEdia: Part 2 (Week 5)

Social media is an important tool in today’s Western societies but just how negatively is it affecting our states of mind? While social media can have a positive effect on businesses and promote good causes, it can also cause severe addictions and indirect pyschiatric conditions. Nearly 40% of a survey conducted on 2000 Americans said they’d rather do the following things than surrender their social networking profiles:
  • Wait in line at the DMV
  • Read “War and Peace”
  • Do their taxes
  • Give up an hour of sleep each night for a year
  • Run a marathon
  • Sit in traffic for four hours while listening to polka music
  • Get a root canal
  • Spend a night in jail
  • Clean the drains in the showers at the local gym
  • Give up their air conditioner/heater

Are we a society addicted to social media?! The answer is yes. But why so? Of those surveyed, the main reason for their addiction came from “FOMO” or Fear Of Missing Out. The threat of missing a news event or popular life story is motivation to habitually check their feeds regularly. I am a regular user of Facebook and Instagram but have not been tempted or interested in other sites like Twitter, Pinterest or Digg. The content just doesn’t interest me. What does attract me to Facebook and Instagram is what my friends do and their capacity to involve me digitally in their lives. I use Facebook as a backup to my immediate contacts list and as a means of communicating with overseas and far away friends, receiving event invites and enjoying a web-based communication platform. However, I am not an addict and regularly go for weeks at a time without engaging in the Facebook process. I once was an avid user, determined on achieving “social acceptance and success” from my peers by posting pretty photos and witty statuses. Strangely enough, once I got a phone that had Facebook as a standard application and one where I could check my notifications anytime anywhere, my visits to the site decreased. I suppose you could attribute this to the old saying “you only want what you can’t have”; now that Facebook is at my fingertips no matter where I go, the appeal, demand and suspense no longer exist. As for Instagram, a photo sharing iPhone application, to me it is as engaging as any game you could download – simply a tool to ease the boredom in desperate situations. And even then I find Instagram itself boring.

In terms of important communication, I believe these sites inhibit real connections. Nothing can replace seeing a friend and interacting face to face; feeling and empathising with their emotions, reacting to their opinions and embracing physically. Computer-based communication is quickly replacing physical interaction and this concept both scares and frustrates me. Children are becoming increasingly illiterate as spellcheck and thesaurus replaces their dictionaries. They can’t write or punctuate because a computer does it for them.

But these websites are not just for communicating. They are supermarkets and advertising billboards and social tests. They are manipulative and responsive to our every action. Will society ever return to life without the internet? The future holds many opportunities, both good and bad, in relation to social media advancements.

Catch you later cats and kittens,

Anneleise xx

Social MEdia (Week 5)

Hooked on social media addictions

In today’s modern Western civilisations, we as humans use social media as much as we brush our teeth and go to the toilet… if not far more! Nearly a quarter of the total time spent on line for the average adult is on social networks (Ewer 2012).

I created a survey to understand the what makes social media users tick and the influences that make them regularly use social media websites. The results showed a growing trend of extreme social media use due to habit and social peer pressure. Our society is so conditioned and encouraged to participate in social networking, that overuse has been overlooked. A “normal” amount of use on these websites i often equal to the amount of time we spend avoiding social media. Impromptu surveys of my friends also showed that no matter what or where the task, a social media page would be open or running in the background and that the urge to resist checking their social media feeds was next to impossible. What is this addiction proving? Can social media addiction be used positively?

I am me. I am social ME-dia. We are constructed by our environments.

Click here for the link to my survey. Please feel free (but not obliged) to take the time to read and complete it.

Catch you later cats and kittens,

Anneleise xx

Chained to social media

Cyberpunk developments – 6 Key Features (Week 4)

Cyberpunk is a transcendent sub-genre of science-fiction which is inspiration for many science-fiction concepts. Often expressing the idea of freedom from technology and dark features of the human race, this genre evokes several possible issues that we as a human race face in the future as well as posing satirical views on the nature of humanity in the present. The following timeline shows some key developments in the history of cyberpunk.

The History of Cyberpunk – 6 Key Developments

Catch you later cats and kittens,

Anneleise xx

Cyberspace: A space at all? (Week 4)

What is cyberspace? Is it real? And if so, where is it?

To answer these questions it is important to understand what exactly “cyberspace” is. Cyberpunk fiction writer William Gibson coined the term in the 80s in his short story “Burning Chrome.” Gibson states that cyberspace is “a graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system…Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data” (1984). However, Gibson himself eventually criticised the term as being simply a code for his cybernetic musings.

The definition above implies that cyberspace lacks the reality that “space” suggests. Cyberspace infers that information, that from communication, is a physical element that humans can delve into and explore . However, this idea seems far-fetched and impossible. “Hackers” had to detach their minds from reality and and leaving their body behind, making them unaware of their physical surroundings. This means there is a clear distinction between a physical world and a digital world; a “dualism” between “real” and “virtual.” There is a notion of a virtual reality; a three dimensional digital environment that humans can enter and traverse, looking for information. The second, is a world of networks of computers which enable us to communicate, store and retrieve information (Bryant 2001). An example of the latter, is the internet which is increasingly at our fingertips. Gibson’s proposed cyber-jockeys and netrunners were required to blend their mind with digital sources to “navigate through a labyrinth” of information in its “physical” form. I also reject the notion of a “virtual world”, because like these sources suggest, information and our human brain’s interpretation of it does not exist in a physical sense. It only exists because we know it exists because we understand information in various forms; but it is not a tangible element. We know understanding happens because for every action there is a reaction. The thought of a “virtual” world where we must fly through light sources to access information sounds ridiculous. Even stranger is that cyberspace has been given its own dimension and world of its own in the future. Will we end up like that? Consider this episode of The Simpsons which explores the idea of being trapped in cyberspace. In  “Homer3“, Homer finds himself trapped in a three dimensional world, inspired by an episode in The Twilight Zone. Search “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror VI” to learn more.

Essentially, cyberspace may not be a physical state of being but more so a “place” where cyber communication occurs. One blogger described it as the “indefinite place out there, where [the] two of you, two human beings, actually meet and communicate” (Rey 2012). It is a representation of the digital world of communication that exists only by using the technology that is now available to us. Cyberspace is therefore a complex and difficult concept to grasp as even its own definitions are vague and misleading. More relevant is the idea that a virtual reality will be constructed in the form of simulations that mirror reality or perhaps be indistinguishable from reality; our own Matrix. Even then, the word “constructed” is inaccurate unless we can prove this already exists – in my interpretation, this idea seems like a social experiment or a God-like invention. Either we know about it because humans created it in a smaller reality, or we don’t know about it and we are already living in one.  Constructing a new reality is only comprehensible when seen in the like of Big Brother, or Lisa Simpson’s new world that she creates by accidentally electrocuting one of her teeth in Cola.

The following blog is an interesting interpretation of the idea of “cyberspace” and how it is mythical: The Myth of Cyberspace. Also, this blogs further supports the notion that the concept of cyberspace is obsolete (watch out for bad language): Gibsonian Concept of Cyberspace is silly and outdated

Catch you later cats and kittens,

Anneleise xx


Bryant R 2001, What kind of space is cyberspace?, Minerva – An internet journal of philosophy, ISSN 1393-614X, viewed 30 August 2012,< >

Gibson, W 1984, Neuromancer, Ace

Rey PJ 2012, The myth of cyberspace, viewed 30 August 2012,< >

Mind Control & the Internet by Sue Halpern (Week 3)

In her article “Mind Control & the Internet,” (2011) Sue Halpern discusses opposing arguments on the integration of web-based technology into the human brain. Studies have shown that integrated technologies (neutral implants) can increase the quality of life and “restore” human functions and are seen as “good necessary and worthy” (Helpbern 2011, p.1). However, implants that aim only to enhance the human experience are considered a threat to human integrity and a vain and selfish representation of humanity today. I disagree with this statement and believe that if a person wishes to incorporate this sort of technology into their life in order to experience the world better, then they should be allowed to without prejudice or harsh judgement.

However, in the article Chorost suggests an “ideal” world where the internet is as seamless and natural as possible (Halpern 2011, p.1). This idea proposes that the internet is like a robot existing in the brain. It becomes a uniquely personal experience that helps the human race to traverse the “random, messy, ever-expanding volume” that is the web (Halpern 2011, p.2). Larry Page also supports this idea by envisioning a future where one’s brain is “augmented” by Google’s services, meaning that when you think of a question “your cell phone whispers the answer in your ear.” In my opinion, with the ever-advancing speed and skill of technologies, humanity is become increasingly impatient, illiterate and against old practices. The majority of youth, as they are brought up through the technological revolution, rely less “hard copy” sources (books, newspaper, etc.) and methods for finding the answers to questions, and more on an instant internet response. It’s now common knowledge that if you want your answer all you need to do is Google it. For example, take the creation of Spell check, typing and texting. Humans no longer need to exercise a knowledge in proper spelling, grammar and punctuation as the laws are ingrained into the software of the computer. On the other hand, texting has created new words and abbreviations, “text language,” that lead us further and further away from traditional educated practices. But is this just a new evolution to learning and the human race? Will typing be the new writing, just as writing was the new painting?

Furthermore, with the personalisation of internet searches the information that is available to us is being limited and different for each person. It creates the possibility of anything with an agenda being able to “modify” the search results and tailor it to the person that is searching. Thus, a simple search could be used to control and disseminate news and information, cutting off conflicting opinions (Halpern 2011, p.2). I also have strong feelings against the notion of a “personalised” search. I turn to the interne to search for a broad and interesting array of information relating to the topic. Thus, allowing me to construct and equal and informed argument.

In the final straw, millions of dollars are being used to produce prototypes for “thought helmets” that allow soldiers to communicate wirelessly and the development of video games which are beamed directly onto the brain. All of which propose serious problems should there be glitches in the system. What if the soldiers messages are misinterpreted or are changed in the process, essentially like the effect of the game Chines Whispers? Could it be possible for a soldier to accidentally get a command to kill an innocent civilian if a mistake in the communication thread is made? And with this idea of video games directly beamed onto the brain, would this create a serious video game addiction in which the player becomes trapped in their own mind? Where then are the boundaries between the game and reality? These are all compelling questions that are brought to the forefront with the technological advances that are allowing humans to become part man, part machine.

I’m an advocate for the old school and until significant developments are made with these technologies and their usefulness, I will still remain sceptical as to their functionality and worth to society.

Catch you later cats and kittens,

Anneleise xx


Halpern, S 2011, Mind Control & the internet, viewed 15 August 2012, <;

The world mourns the death of MSN Messenger, as we say hello to the Facebook Chat revolution (Week 3)

Once a prominent instant messaging service, MSN Messenger was officially decommissioned by Microsoft in June 2009 (Protalinski 2009). Its most basic form was launched in 1999 and followed a series of seven updates to its interface (after 2004) and now exists as an integrated add-on to Windows Live Hotmail. The original service allowed users to communicate with a great number of other internet users and enables them to connect with friends, family and colleagues anywhere in the world (Microsoft 1999).

“Communications continues to be the cornerstone of the Internet, and instant messaging is becoming a more prevalent way for people to communicate,” said Brad Chase, vice president of the Consumer and Commerce Group at Microsoft. “We are excited to deliver our easy-to-use MSN Messenger Service to enable consumers to communicate with as many people as possible.”

The program was based around an easy-to-use policy and a small program size of 320K, and a “fast” download speed of three minutes for the average modem. Presently, in three minutes on an average modem with average internet speed one could download an entire music album, an episode of a TV show or an entire book. It also featured “comprehensive status information” which enabled users to change their status to various degrees of availability (Microsoft 1999). But one of its most prudent and respected characteristics was its privacy designs that allowed users to control who can see them online, who can communicate with them and become virtually “invisible” to other users (Microsoft 1999). People used this tool to send pictures, talk in real time with others in a marginally anonymous way and share pictures and media files over the internet. It was popular with pre-teens and teens before the uprise of texting and allowed important communication without the social awkwardness of face-to-face interactions. Like most computer based communication, it took away this face-to-face element and allowed users to feel virtually invincible (consider the notion of a “keyboard warrior”; one who faces reality through the medium of their keyboard only but would not act that way in real life).

The program influenced the way we use technology today by setting the standards for instant messaging (text and internet alike) and creating social barriers for online communication. However, its decline in popularity was not just from advancements in technology. Other social networking websites with growing popularity started to integrate instant messaging platforms into their interfaces, eventually eradicating MSN Messenger from the market. Facebook is the most prominent of these whose instant messaging design was almost mimicked by other sites such as MySpace. The main allure of Facebook’s chat element is that is convenient to use while also accessing the other features of the site simultaneously. New and exciting features are constantly being developed including sending documents and photos, message history and a simultaneous message log in the private messages section. Facebook Chat allows users to private message each other online on the site but there is also an option to download a similar Facebook Messenger programme to be used on computers, laptops and smartphones (5 most popular instant messengers 2012). Where the Wall and Inbox were the primary methods of communication on Facebook, chat allows immediacy of communication and a sense of urgency. The chat bar, which requires no installation, shows all online friends and does not require the page to be refreshed to view new messages. Chats are collapsible and notifications are displayed on the chat bar to avoid cluttering the screen (Wiseman 2008).This means that users can always be connected, part of the websites motto.

Catch you later cats and kittens,

Anneleise xx


5 most popular instant messengers 2012, viewed 15 August 2012, <;

Microsoft 1999, Microsoft launches MSN messenger service, viewed 15 August 2012, <;

Protalinski,E 2009, MSN web messenger dies on June 30, 2009, viewed 15 August 2012, <>

Wiseman J 2008, Facebook chat: now we’re talking, viewed 15 August 2012, <;