Boys Toys: What Does Technology Cost?


This article originally appeared in Issue# 48

From the research reports we’ve cited, it is clear that the cost of new technology goes far beyond the price tag. At the same time, we find our lives, and our leisure, enhanced by television, video, stereos and tape decks -- as well as computers for work and for play. Here are some ideas to consider in evaluating the cost of new entertainment media in our lives.

  1. Researchers around the world verify that gender is a strong indicator of what types of programs people watch. Men everywhere prefer sports, action-oriented programs and news while women prefer dramas, including serials, soap operas and films, as well as music, dance and comedy-based productions. Why do YOU watch what you like to watch? Do you talk about your preferences with others? Can you use television (or other media) as a way to get to know others better?
  2. If males in the house dominate family viewing, and they prefer primarily sports and action, what kind of media "diet" does that make for the rest of the family? What about homes where the adult males may not be the father of the children present — and thus not as concerned, perhaps, for monitoring what children are seeing/hearing?
  3. Is anyone in your house a "media hermit?" Discuss whether computers, music videos, CD players or video games create a "wall of sound" against the outside world. On the other hand,does technology provide the opportunity for personal “space” in crowded cities, neighborhoods or family apartments where spatial privacy is scarce?
  4. What medium is most important to you? When ask "what media technology would you want to have on a desert island?" women almost universally picked the telephone. Men, on the other hand, prioritized stereo and television. Write your answer to this question in your personal media journal. Then ask the question of your family and friends. Discuss your answers with them. Report your findings to your class.
  5. Who controls the TV remote in your house? Can everyone use all of the VCR or DVD functions? Does anyone feel left-out or rejected by not knowing how to program and use it fully?