CRACKING WISE: Do gadgets make us dumb?

By David Mendez

Last week, my Xbox Live subscription ran out, and I noticed something for the first time: it sucks to play a game without online multiplayer.

Upon analyzing this newly held belief, I couldn’t help but reflect upon my gaming life. How on Earth did I get to this point?

I thought past all the shiny, 3D first-person shooters (“Halo,” “Call of Duty”) and open-world sandbox games (“Grand Theft Auto”) and got back to what kindled my gaming love: “Super Mario Kart.”

(Quick aside: I caused a slight disruption at my uncle’s wedding because my older cousins promised me Ninja Turtle time on their Nintendo. Apparently, saying “Turtle Power” into a church microphone during the ceremony is frowned upon, even for a 3-year-old.)

In any case, I played and beat “Super Mario Kart” as early as age 5. My mom has photographic proof. I’m shocked it isn’t on the same wall back home as my naked baby pictures.

It seems ridiculous to play video games at such a young age. Beating a game pre-kindergarten is akin to a first-degree geek black belt.

While thinking about this (you might infer that studying wasn’t high on my to-do list that day), I flashed back to an article I read earlier in the week, titled “Can We Blame Tech For Turning Kids Into Dolts?”

Apparently, adolescents today are dumber than ever — mechanically speaking. Some kids are bewildered by such ancient technology as coat hangers and can openers. They can’t fasten their shoes without using Velcro.

“Dumb” is a relative term in this instance. I concede there are people who can’t change a spare tire by themselves (they’re called “liberals.” Self-deprecation zing!).

But kids today aren’t dumb — they’re skilled in other ways. After all, you wouldn’t put a “dumb” label on an old person who has no idea how to send an e-mail. You’d call them “Grandma.”

Parents, you can’t blame computers and video games for making your kids dumb if you’re the one placing them in your kids’ dirty, sticky hands.

Do the world a favor: Play games with your children. Teach them something useful. At the very least, impart some common sense.

No one wants to be responsible for the kid being pried away from a podium by a priest.

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