Obama Slams the iPad, iPod, XBox and Playstation

Obama: "With iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations ... information becomes a distraction

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Does President Obama realize that the iPod, Xbox and Playstation are specifically designed to be distractions, diversions and a form of entertainment? 

In a speech to the graduating class today at Hampton University in Virginia Obama said this:

"You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter.

And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.

So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy."

Are the iPods, Xboxes and Playstations "distractions" rather than "tools of empowerment", as Obama claims? It’s not as if these devices were ever intended to be anything more than diversions.

Mr. Obama, should we really be looking at these gadgets as a "means of emancipation"? 

>>> Give us your thoughts on this in our comments section below…

Obama Slams the iPad, iPod, XBox and Playstation
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  • Bill Wilson

    I would think the President would have more important things to worry about than iPad,iPod, Xbox and Playstation. If he can’t find something more important to worry about than iPads we are going to hell in a hand basket.

  • Guest

    So now he is blaming the state of our country on Entertainment devices? The pressure is coming from the powers that be, and the place to start looking is at the top. Just replace the words “iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations” with “My presidency” and he might be on the right track.

  • Red Herring

    I think that the worst is a favorite POTUS’ gadget “Blackberry”. This is the real menace, distraction and diversion :-)

  • Guest

    Read between the lines, instead of playing a Xbox or playstation you should be learning your periodic table or helping your community.

  • Will

    It only requires a little reading comprehension to see that Obama is NOT attacking Ipads, etc.

    He’s attacking the obessesion with diversionary entertainment, as represented by this technology.

    It’s simply building on the concerns over trivial TV that so many have expressed in the past. It’s just with the modern tech, the information saturation is overload.

    “Guest” nailed it on the head – read between the lines. The first guest on the other hand could try and remember that Obama has only been president for a year and a half – understand your own system of government and you’ll know how brief that is.

  • http://billock.net Brent Billock

    It seems like this article and the commenters are so eager to point out the president’s perceived cluelessness that they missed the point of the quoted passage.

    Much of our technological advancement in the past decade has been directed at driving the consumer culture farther, and at producing shiny new toys to divert us.

    In a very real way, that’s wasted potential. Because the information age has the power to democratize our society. The speed and efficiency at which information can now be shared should be driving citizens to demand better performance from their government, their churches and their banks.

    There’s nothing wrong with being entertained or diverted, but a desire to leverage our technological advancement for real social benefit is an appropriate idea to impart to a graduating class.

  • http://www.marketappeal.co.uk/ marketappeal

    Perhpas Obama would like to recall that most of the UAVs fying around protecting American interests are controlled by Xbox controllers. Not only were they designed as a better way to play games, but their wide familiarity probably makes training UAV pilots easier, as half of them grew up “flying” around using these controllers and a small tele for feedback anyway!

    Obama should be grateful that the US military is finally catching up with civilian control and communication technology, which is often nearly a decade ahead of cumbersome military development and procurement procedures.

    No doubt, commanders will be using iPads for battle field control in a few years time, iPhones to keep an eye on images from their UAVs and clusters of PS3/4s to simulate future conflicts.

  • morninglory

    Media is power and it can manipulate your mind to become addicted to it and become distracted from what really matters. I think the argument is valid. We are living in a high tech world and we have to be aware of their affects on those who don’t think twice about the repercussions of allowing such gadgets to take over every minute of our day; by essentially wasting time. The odd game or 2 is ok. However, this tool called media, and all it encompasses, is indeed powerful. Use the power to promote change. If you are aware of it’s power then you can easily manipulate it yourself for the good.

  • http://www.clicksweeperblog.com Jennifer

    I’m surprised anyone would even try to deny that we have become an increasingly distracted country that pays more attention to our various electronic gadgets than the people or places we are actually around. I think Obama could have extended his criticism to cell phones and blackberries in general. Wake up, America!

  • Jacqueline Ayad

    The bombardment of information that Obama refers to is accurate – just ask anyone who was around 50 years ago what we were exposed to and what we needed to know then compared to today’s constant flow of streaming information that we “need to know” in order to survive in a competitive workplace and a poor economy. We are either absorbing the constant and ever-changing stream or trying to disengage our perpetually active minds with distractions like xbox and Nintendo. When do today’s youth actually allow time for quiet reflection, to investigate or question the truth of that information? To assess where they have been and where they are going? Absorbing information and learning to think for ourselves are not the same thing at all.

    So long as we continue to race from doing one thing after another (including entertaining ourselves) and fail to allow ourselves time to actually examine what we read, hear, or are taught we are not in charge of our own lives, we are not “emancipated” or free to make clear and considered choices – we’re just carried along in the stream of information – much of it is useless, much of it is partial truth, and much of it is simply flawed or false.

    It is easy to blame the “powers that be” and easy to bash the Prez for our problems but it is our own complacency and a multitude of available distractions that allows the greed and selfishness that led to the economic crises to persist. Rather than wasting time playing xbox and grousing about what is, separate the truth from all the fictions and then determine how you can become part of the solution.

    I think this is closer to the President’s message than the interpretations I’ve read so far.

  • Guest

    As president of the most powerful country in the world, shouldn’t he at least be educated in the use of the devices he is condemning prior to declaring them distractions. You would think he would want to have the facts before decrying a product as something that our youth should avoid.

    While the game systems are *primarily* for gaming, the iPad and iPod both have alternative uses other than gaming. Downloading text books, for example.

    Is using your iPad to read you text book considered a distraction? And why single out Apple products? Doesn’t Google, RIM, Nokia, Motorola and the others all have web surfing capabilities? how are these devices less threatening than Apple? Purely because they are not as successful.

    Obama has already demonstrated that he believes success should be penalized by paying a greater portion of Americas’ tax base. I’m incredulous that he would even utter such an ignorant comment, and why even address this anyway? Aren’t there other factors contributing to the demise of education in our society? Factors like tenured teachers who no longer care about education but are only interested in their paycheck? Just plain bad teachers that are protected by their union? How can get quality educators in our system and weed out those that are ineffective? Wouldn’t addressing this issue be more productive than slamming iPods and XBoxes?

  • Charlie Terry

    Obama, sticking his nose into issues that clearly no one wants him to engage on reminds me of the person Carly Simon is singing about in her song: “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.” Obama like many from Hollywood actually think we care about their opinions on issues that are not why we like them (an actor, singer, politician, etc). In fact we really wish they’d pay attention to the issues surrounding why we like them. Like make another movie, CD or do what you promised when you campaigned!

  • http://www.conejovalleyokay.com Adsense Publisher

    Just like any politician, he’s playing the “don’t look over there anymore, look over here now” game.

    Today we’ll focus on health care reform, and then when that gets people mad, we’ll look at immigration reform, which will get people less mad about health care reform. In most cases since immigration reform has hit the media, notice how people are so made about letting non-Americans into the country that nobody is yelling about the Middle East and Health Care Reform anymore?

    Take a million people, and have them hate that we’re in Afghanistan, and then take a million people playing video games and you have only 1 side to the issue. But if some of those people that are all bent up on Afghanistan hate the immigration problem more, then make immigration the issue and suddenly you have less of an argument about Afghanistan and more of an argument about immigration. Even the people playing video games might wake up and build up a movement about the immigration problem in the USA.

    President Obama just wants to be able to stir people so that he can shift focus to where he wants it. The more people focusing on video games means less control over political issues.

  • Guest

    WAIT JUST A MINUTE…Obama campaigned for President utilizing “Obama for President” billboards in the Xbox 360 game “Burnout Paradise.” Just do a quick search for “obama for president video game billboard.” This quote was found: the Director of Corporate Communications at Electronic Arts said

  • john

    Of all that could be said about his I think the clear point is that Obama lied to make a point to children who are sure to be interested in such things as xbox, playstation, Ipad, and Itouch. He does know how to use them… My 4 year old son was using our Itouch learning alphabets, colors, shapes and spelling when he was 3 years old. This is only the fender of his Bentley Folks but I promise you the statement is stupid and not in a Bushism kind of innocent classlessness. This was a self promoting ignorance to what is in fact an untruth. He said he didn’t only say that he doesn’t know how to work them. What he said was that he doesn’t know how to work them and it is by conscious and intelligent choice.

  • Guest

    Hum sorry but the president is not wrong, except to say aloud before everyone that everyone whispered in the corridors. But if I understand you prefer the good old hypocrisy!

  • DaleC

    If our President had an iPad, he could Google “democracy” and learn that the USA is not, nor has it ever been, a democracy. It is a Republic.

  • Guest

    Doesn’t Obama have a blackberry?? Like that’s anybetter than a iPod

  • http://www.briongloid.net Briongloid

    Everyone know’s Obama’s more of a Nintendo kinda guy.

  • http://www.ridehard.co.uk Guest

    why not take it further, criticise any books which are fiction because they’re not accurate and educative. Seriously, one would think he’d have something more useful to say to graduating students…

  • http://www.carbwood.us Jorge Carbwood

    So, what’s the difference between Hugo and Obama now?


  • Guest

    It seems that the White House has close ties with Google which is a direct competitor of Apple in the Smart Device market. 2 knocks against Apple and none against Google.

  • Downpour046

    So he’s basically the guy saying.. “Well… I don’t know how to use it, I don’t really know too much about it… but its bad.” Putting pressure on our country and the democracy? Please, if anything it’s creating transparency at a rapid rate. Whether or not its “biased” or inaccurate, its no more accurate or trustworthy than anything that comes out of the mouth of our government. At least its real people speaking, and not a trimmed and tailored speech specifically designed for approval.

  • Ryan Kempf

    I agree with our president about education yet I think kids need to have fun at times here all work no play make Jack & Jill dull boys and girls we need balance with everything

  • Call me Ishmael

    The United States is a Republic NOT a Democracy!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Shawn

    Its not about the Ipod, Ipad or Xbox. Obama really is starting to try and manipulate people into eventually going along with things like silencing Talk Radio and any person who speaks out in disagreement against his policy’s which are extremely radical Marxist policy’s. No president in History has ever implied that information is a distraction or a hindrance to democracy. Information is everything. The whole reason our world has become so advanced so extremely fast over the last 150 years is directly the result of the type of information he’s trying to destroy. Better communications has made our world great. Scientist able to communicate etc etc etc. Because of having things like the internet and ipods to surf the web with this generation is the most intelligent generation in history. We can have the entire library of congress at our fingertips. Yes not all information is true but it just further increases our intelligence to have to think for ourselves and cross reference things. Ughhhhh Im so worried that people are not going to realize until its too late that Obama is trying to transform our nation into a socialist nation. And history shows us that every socialist nation in history has failed. There have been great nations that are so amazing that have turned socialist and soon failed after the change. All you have too do is read. Go to the history books and see for yourself. Think about it. The nation is in debt. We are struggling over money. When a husband and wife are in massive debt its not the time to go on a spending spree and remodel the kitchen. Its time to budget and make sacrifices and only spend on whats absolutely necessary. Obama is spending faster and farther than any president in history during a time when America is the brokest!!!!! I mean duh. Come on. We have to save our nation. The first and most important step to that is to get Barrack Hussein Obama out of office.

  • http://islandball.blogspot.com/ Joseph Martel

    The president is right. These things are not all that necessary to live a happy and productive life. Much of social media is really not that necessary and we have too much offered everywhere. Everyone is aware of the hype but they are hooked. Tough

  • Guest

    Obama himself is a child of the digital age and Web 2.0 empowerment, which played such a critical part in his election. His address to Hampton students has been distorted in many people’s perceptions (as I noticed from the various commentaries to the news) to mean that technology is a negative influence. I believe instead that his intention was to point out that in order for information to empower the user, rather than be a source of continuous distraction or – worse – intellectual numbness – it is to become critical in the use of information now that it is so freely available and easily produced and shared.

    My view on the subject – discussed in The Principle of Relevance – is that the free flowing availability of information/data is not something we can stop, nor would we want to. However it is necessary for our cognitive information processing skills to evolve together with the evolution of information. At the moment, our brain still works on an input-output mode: we receive information, we process it, wherever it comes from and whatever it relates to, up to a point where we are continuously distracted or so overloaded that we don’t filter anymore. We have to step away from a linear way of processing information and evolve to a multileveled, critical processing mode.

    Stefania Lucchetti
    Author of “The Principle of Relevance”

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