Ellen Langer

I have a different view from how I think most people regard the playing of computer games. They remind me of those who want to close casinos because of the money and time they think people waste. It is as if they think that closing the casino will lead these people to healthier activities—perhaps libraries and concerts. I very much doubt it.

I think that if people are given alternatives that are exciting and that lead them to feel good about themselves, they will gravitate to them. How is this related to computer games? People usually prefer spending their time in ways that make them feel challenged, competent and strong. If our friends, children, spouses prefer their iPhones to us, the answer, in my view is not to abolish the use of the gadget in our presence. It is for us to make the potential interaction more interesting and affirming. Indeed, I think that the problem is not the “addicted gamer.” If given the choice to have an intimate, authentic warm loving interaction or play Angry Birds, it’s hard for me to imagine people choosing the game. We have learned to settle for unlived lives, so this alternative doesn’t even occur to us. An interactive mindful alternative might be just the thing we need.