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A week without computers? Hello?

In response to the report written by Alorie Gilbert, "Can your family go a week without computers? ":

A week without computers? You have to be kidding. Hello? It's 2005 last time I checked the calendar, and a week without the Internet is like a day without...oh sorry; that was an old commercial, as I recall.

Can we go a week without the Internet? Of course we can, but why should we? In our house, the computer is a more convenient, easier, cheaper and faster substitute for snail mail, telephone, interoffice envelopes, trips to the mall, grocery shopping, library visits, TV "news" and well--I guess this covers the general idea. In our house we can do without all of the above-mentioned (other) services far easier than we could do without the Web.

The problems you infer and state about computers reflect neither the PC issue nor the Internet. The problems are inherent in the discipline that is involved for those using these tools for "appropriate" activities (as opposed to those who abuse the tools). If you eat too much you get fat and risk health problems. Does that mean food is bad? Or that food should be rationed because some abuse it?

The PC and the Internet allow speed, convenience, cost-effectiveness and interactivity. TV has never allowed anything but what other people wanted us to see and hear. How can these be compared?

As far as instant-messaging addiction goes, the same problem occurred in my "boomer" generation, yea those many long years ago. Regarding the telephone, my parents took control by simply making me get off the phone after a certain length of time. So get the kids off the computer unless they are using it appropriately. And furthermore, I am not altogether sure that talking to friends (either by phone or by instant messaging) is a "problem." At least these teens are talking. Ask a psychiatrist about the value of talking.

And "gaming" has always been an issue. Playing solitaire to the exclusion of other activities is just as big a problem offline as online. The Internet and PC gaming merely make for more interesting options, but the issue is the same: Is there something that one ought to do instead? And if so, how does one control it? As a parent and a teacher, I have always found that talking and educating is far more likely to produce results than banning.

The addiction issue is not one that has been created by technology; it has been with us for a very long time. The answer does not lie in banning (or blocking, or restricting) the technology. Were there gambling addicts prior to electronic slot machines?

The Internet (as accessed by PCs) gives us far greater access to choices--for information, for products and services, and so on--than we have ever had. I am so tired of people using the availability of choice (including online choices) as an excuse for lack of discipline. Sorry for the rant. I am usually more sanguine, but I guess this article hit a hot spot for me.

Jane Abramowitz
Brampton, Ontario, Canada