How are a new generation of men being effected by technology?
No stranger to controversy - Psychologist and author Prof. Philip Zimbardo rocked the academic world in 1971 with his Stanford Prison Experiment. His research continued with such celebrated works as The Lucifer Effect, studies of time, heroism and Social intensity syndrome.
In his latest book, Man (Dis)connected, Zimbardo explores the role technology is having on men academically, socially and sexually.
In this #Disruptive Voices interview we caught up with Dr. Zimbardo during his book tour of the United Kingdom and asked him the effects the connected world is having on young men. He discusses internet, computer games & pornography addictions and how this is affecting a new generation of males.
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Transcript (continues on site):
It's too easy for young people to live in a virtual world and give up the social world, the real world.
Hi, I'm Philip Zimbardo - I am the founder and President of the Heroic Imagination Project and when I'm not talking about good and evil I'm talking about the impact of technology on young men everywhere in the world which I illustrate in my book "Man (Dis)connected' and there's an American version coming out next month called "Man Interrupted" which I did with Nikita Coulombe my young co-author.
The problem is we now live in a world of technology. We have our cell phones, people walking down the street in America with a Starbucks coffee and a cell phone plugged into their ears. You see bunches of kids, teenagers, sitting around - no-one's talking to each other, they're all on their cell phone or they're watching a YouTube video. So technology has taken over.
The danger is getting addicted to it. That it's just too easy for young people to live in a virtual world and give up the social world - the real world. Because it provides so much entertainment - with YouTube videos, everybody has endless Google searches and now, of course, the big media - Amazon - any movie you want, any song, you can have all the music in the world can be at your fingertips. And again, endless movies. And so I appreciate the value of that.
My alarm that I'm sounding in this book is that for men who've grown up in the internet generation, maybe up to aged 29 now, meaning when they were little kids they were accessing internet.
For those young men the internet has become too important. I mean important enough so that it replaces much of the real life connected with real people. So the two things that I focus on are video games and online free pornography - and now they're almost like, for me, a twin evil. There's nothing wrong with either of them - the problem is when you do it either in excess and when you do them in social isolation - for me that's the twin killer. You're all alone, five, six, eight, ten hours every day, every night - in your room playing video games, watching pornography and you're not interacting, you're not socialising. So for many young men they never learn social communication, they don't know how to carry on a conversation.
We know if you programmed your computer or a robots to carry on a conversation - there's a thousand algorithms, a thousand rules they have to learn. And you only learn how to talk to people and feel comfortable doing it by observing others and by practicing and getting feedback. They don't observe others, they don't practice and so they feel awkward - and when you feel awkward you avoid it. So I'm arguing it's a new kind of shyness.
The old shyness was, that I had studied for many years, was a fear of rejection. Now it's you don't know what to do - so it's not fear of rejection - it's almost as if you're in a foreign land and you don't know the language and you don't know how to ask where the loo is. So it's really that.
Now, we do know that is lots of research that says playing video games in moderation can have positive cognitive effects - builds up sense of mastery, eye hand co-ordination. So it's really when does a moderate amount become excessive?
Now, some people argue it's really not the number, it's not like "gee, when you do ten hours", it really becomes addictive when you prefer to do that than anything else. You would rather be playing video games than hanging out with your friends, than being in school, than playing sports, than being out in nature.