Before there were electronics, people found simple ways to entertain themselves: Curling up with a good book, knitting by the fire, listening to the radio, and playing Bridge. There was no such thing as cable television, boom boxes, or Spore.
Technology has provided us with even more creative ways to occupy our time. Thanks to Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft, we can play video games, competing with friends and other gamers from around the world to master fighting, strategy, and sports titles. While some parents may argue that video games are violent and addictive, healthy amounts of game time can actually be beneficial to a child’s development. A study by Information Solutions Group for PopCap Games discovered that playing video games can improve concentration, increase attention span, and provide positive affirmation, especially in children suffering from ADHD. In addition, we can burn calories while playing Wii Fit.
As far as music goes, we used to have to pop in another cassette tape or CD once one reached the end. Today’s portable music players (PMPs)—such as the Apple iPod touch and Microsoft Zune —have redefined how we listen to and access music. We’re able to store gigabytes of music on a PMP and listen to thousands of songs on one player. And when we get tired of the music on them, we simply load different tunes.
Traditional paperbacks and hardcovers are now inching towards e-books. With Amazon’s Kindle, we have access to more than 150,000 e-books at any given time. We can adjust the font size of the text we’re reading (there are six different options). In addition, the Kindle offers 180MB of onboard memory, which means we can carry up to 200 books at once.
Watching TV involves more than just our television and cable box these days. Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) like the TiVo HD XL enable us to pause, rewind, and fast-forward live TV as well as record TV shows when we’re not at home. If we’re bored with watching our tired DVD collection, there’s always renting movies and buying TV shows from our couch using Apple TV. This nifty digital media extender also lets us play digital content onto our TVs from any home Mac or Windows machines running iTunes.
The Bad: While we can’t imagine being without these engaging devices, technology can at the same time hold us back from truly enjoying life. There’s still nothing like flipping through the crisp pages of a traditional paperback. Listening to music with earbuds divert us from hearing the incredible sounds of nature. Video games are great for eye- and hand coordination, but it doesn’t hurt to turn off the console and go hiking or out to dinner with friends as an alternative. And instead of recording almost every show on TV, stick to the ones you’re actually going to watch.