Posts tagged ‘1990s’

December 15, 2010

Is virtual reality just fun or dangerous?

Anybody else born in the 1990s will remember the Sims computer game which created a virtual family which you could control. A popular 3D website is ‘Second Life‘ which was first launched in 2003. Last month, up to 21.3 million were registered with ‘Second Life’ and one can wonder, is virtual reality safe or dangerous?

Some individuals have a problem distinguishing fantasy from reality as has been seen by many crimes, especially concerning children, where the media influences have been a problem. Most in the UK will remember the case of Jamie Bulger in 1993 where the young two-year old was taken from a shopping centre and subject to torture and was finally murdered by two other children, Robert Thompson aged 10 and John Venables also aged 10. It was suggested after the murder, in court, that the two children enjoyed watching ‘Child’s Play‘ which was a disturbing film and that’s when the question was asked, can media influence actions?

In 2007, the popular television series CSI: New York, made an episode entitled ‘Down the Rabbit Hole‘ where a trained assassin was using ‘Second Life’ to track down victims by gaining their trust through the game and meet with them. In reality, several claims have been made against ‘Second Life’ regarding their privacy settings and their avatars. Some have argued that ‘Second Life’ can’t force people to log out of their Avatars so they have no control over how much time some people are staying at the site. This could have bad consequences for the fantasy vs. reality debate but also imply serious health risks. In 2007, Islamic militants were suspected of using ‘Second Life’ to hunt down new recruits and to practice real-life terrorism in the virtual reality world. This in not uncommon with the increase of technology and the availability of social websites where people are free to roam and talk. It’s unclear how many Islamic militants were hired from the avatar website but it’s clear that it did work.

There are even more examples of individual behaviour which can effect others. In Cornwall 2008, a woman was granted a divorce from her husband when she found him conducting several affairs with avatars in ‘Second Life’. It’s hard to believe, but I found several other divorce cases where the spouse was having an affair on ‘Second Life’. It’s unfortunate but that’s what being another character all together can do to some people. They forget they have real-life consequences.

However, some have claimed that virtual reality sites have positive implications for individuals who use it. ‘Second Life’ has been praised by many for building a strong online community. You can help build a community space for yourself and there have been projects for the community such as building a replica of the Eiffel Tower. The site also encourages people to search for their existing friends and then make more friends through them. The virtual reality element helps make the impossible possible. You can travel around by teleporting and even flying to a destination. The community is made real by even having their own currency called ‘Linden Dollars‘. It has been praised by postmodern surrealists who love the ever-changing scenery and the complex characters.

There is the danger from virtual reality websites such as ‘Second Life’ where the online community can become a reality for those who find it hard to distinguish from real life. Even though there have been cases of criminal activity linked back to the users on the site, these are apparently isolated cases. Mostly, people praise the site for it’s escapism and individuals can delve into a world of flying, avatars and projects. It is fair to say that most people need an escape from everyday life such as watching the television, having a stiff drink or participate in a virtual reality world. As long as those who can distinguish between their online life and their real life do not pose a threat, then it can be just seen as harmless fun.

December 9, 2010

Are children becoming too difficult to control?

Times have changed over the generations. There used to be caning, punishments and detentions whereas now psychologists are stating that unruly child behaviour can be treated with behaviour modification and that it is down to the child’s emotional state which needs to be addressed. Is it true that we are becoming a nanny culture? Do you think that considering the psychoanalysis of children will tame unruly behaviour?

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