Earlier today I was on the radio talking about the moral panic over kids playing Fortnite, a video game. Ten years ago I was on the radio talking about the moral panic over kids playing Grand Theft Auto 4, a video game. The games are different but the panic is the same: parents are letting too-young kids play for far too long and then blaming the game, the games industry and technology in general for their inattention.
Every new technology has a moral panic attached. As I said on air, we even had a panic over books. I’m not making that up. Rachel Adler in Slate:
By the end of the [19th] century there was growing concernâ€”especially among middle class parentsâ€”that these cheap, plentiful books were seducing children into a life of crime and violence. The books were even blamed for a handful of murders and suicides committed by young boys. Perpetrators of crimes whose misdoings were linked to their fondness for penny dreadfuls were often referred to in the newspapers as â€œvictimsâ€ of the books. In the United States, â€œdime novelsâ€ (which usually cost a nickel) were given the same treatment.
It’s a wonderful article.