by Mike Shaughnessy
The following article was originally published in the North American Kairos Youth Culture Newsletter. If you would like to subscribe to this monthly newsletter, please visit their website at: http://www.kairos-na.org/youthculturenewsletter.htm
What is SecondLife?
I spend real money buying fake flowers for a virtual girlfriend who is actually a 35 year-old, twice-divorced man in real life.
My virtual community is set up by me. It's exciting, convenient, self-affirming, narcissistic, fast-paced. I " have it my way – my songs, my friends, my shows, my values. It's a Burger King heaven as sung by Frank Sinatra. I can leave it when I want and change it how I want.
Imagine a church where you pick the leaders, the songs, the preacher and the topic. That's also already available to Christians in-world. Now all you need is a push-button God to answer your prayers.
E-marketer predicts that 53% of children will be in-world by 2011 - in three years. Why? Barbie, Nickelodeon, the Cartoon Network and Bratz have all just launched virtual worlds for children. Lego and Ty Girls are about to and McDonalds can't be far behind. Think of their combined impact on the world of six to eleven year olds and shudder!
Youth face increasing pressure to live in-world at an ever younger age. Slowly, the real world is left behind: the world of church and chores, pimples and parents, siblings and sinners, to be replaced with the iPod, cell phone, X-box, and MySpace. Life is lived more and more "inside the Matrix." Young people today are handling technological dynamite at the age their parents played with matches.
TO THE POINT: Parents, keep your kids in the real world. Delay their connecting to the virtual world and its portals until you know they can handle it. Give them a great experience of FirstLife instead. Oh, and who owns Club Penguin? Disney! "It's Disney, Jim, but not as we knew it."
[Mike Shaughnessy is an elder
in The Servants of the Word
and the Director of Kairos in North
America. Kairos is an international federation of outreaches to high
school, university and post university aged people.]
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