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Student Texts



: Student Texts

Table of Contents

“The Veldt
” by Ray Bradbury


“Adolescents’ TV Watching is Linked to Violent Behavior

Rosie Mestel


” by Kurt Vonnegut


“The Pedestrian
” by Ray Bradbury


“For Conversation Press
,” by Michael


“Antisocial Networking?” by Hilary Stout



The Veldt

by Ray Bradbury

"George, I wish you'd look at

the nursery." (1)

"What's wrong with it?" (2)

"I don't know." (3)

"Well, then." (4)

"I just want you to look at it, is all, or call a psychologist in to look at it." (5)

"What would a psychologist want with a nursery?" (6)

"You know very well what he'd want." His wife paused in the middle of the kitchen
and watched the stove busy humming to itself, making supper for four. (7)

"It's just that the nursery is different now than it was." (8)

"All right, let's have a lo
ok." (9)

They walked down the hall of their soundproofed Happylife Home, which had cost
them thirty thousand dollars installed, this house which clothed and fed and rocked
them to sleep and played and sang and was good to them. Their approach sens
a switch somewhere and the nursery light flicked on when they came within ten feet
of it. Similarly, behind them, in the halls, lights went on and off as they left them behind,
with a soft automaticity. (10)

"Well," said George Hadley. (11)

They stood on the thatched floor of the nursery. It was forty feet across by forty feet
long and thirty feet high; it had cost half again as much as the rest of the house. "But
nothing's too good for our children," George had said. (12)

The nurs
ery was silent. It was empty as a jungle glade at hot high noon. The walls
were blank and two dimensional. Now, as George and Lydia Hadley stood in the center
of the room, the walls began to purr and recede into crystalline distance, it seemed,
and prese
ntly an African veldt appeared, in three dimensions, on all sides, in color
reproduced to the final pebble and bit of straw. The ceiling above them became a deep
sky with a hot yellow sun. (13)

George Hadley felt the perspiration start on his brow. (

"Let's get out of this sun," he said. "This is a little too real. But I don't see anything
wrong." (15)

"Wait a moment, you'll see," said his wife. (16)

Now the hidden odorophonics were beginning to blow a wind of odor at the two
in the middle of the baked veldtland. The hot straw smell of lion grass, the cool
green smell of the hidden water hole, the great rusty smell of animals, the smell of dust
like a red paprika in the hot air. And now the sounds: the thump of distant antelope

on grassy sod, the papery rustling of vultures. A shadow passed through the sky. The
shadow flickered on George Hadley's upturned, sweating face. (17)

"Filthy creatures," he heard his wife say. (18)

"The vultures." (19)

"You see, there

are the lions, far over, that way. Now they're on their way to the
water hole. They've just been eating," said Lydia. "I don't know what." (20)

"Some animal." George Hadley put his hand up to shield off the burning light from his
squinted eyes. "A ze
bra or a baby giraffe, maybe." (21)


"Are you sure?" His wife sounded peculiarly tense. (22)

"No, it's a little late to be sure," be said, amused. "Nothing over there I can see but
cleaned bone, and the vultures dropping for what's left." (23)

"Did you hear that scream?" she asked. (24)

'No." (25)

"About a minute ago?" (26)

"Sorry, no." (27)

The lions were coming. And again George Hadley was filled with admiration for the
mechanical genius who had conceived this room. A
miracle of efficiency selling for an
absurdly low price. Every home should have one. Oh, occasionally they frightened you
with their clinical accuracy, they startled you, gave you a twinge, but most of the time
what fun for everyone, not only your own son
and daughter, but for yourself when you
felt like a quick jaunt to a foreign land, a quick change of scenery. Well, here it was! (28)

And here were the lions now, fifteen feet away, so real, so feverishly and startlingly
real that you could feel the p
rickling fur on your hand, and your mouth was stuffed with
the dusty upholstery smell of their heated pelts, and the yellow of them was in your eyes
like the yellow of an exquisite French tapestry, the yellows of lions and summer grass,
and the sound of th
e matted lion lungs exhaling on the silent noontide, and the smell of
meat from the panting, dripping mouths. (29)

The lions stood looking at George and Lydia Hadley with terrible green
yellow eyes.

"Watch out!" screamed Lydia. (31)


lions came running at them. (32)

Lydia bolted and ran. Instinctively, George sprang after her. Outside, in the hall, with
the door slammed he was laughing and she was crying, and they both stood appalled at
the other's reaction. (33)

"George!" (

"Lydia! Oh, my dear poor sweet Lydia!" (35)

"They almost got us!" (36)

"Walls, Lydia, remember; crystal walls, that's all they are. Oh, they look real, I must

Africa in your parlor

but it's all dimensional, superreactionary, su
color film and mental tape film behind glass screens. It's all odorophonics and sonics,
Lydia. Here's my handkerchief." (37)

"I'm afraid." She came to him and put her body against him and cried steadily. "Did
you see? Did you feel? It's
too real." (38)

"Now, Lydia..." (39)

"You've got to tell Wendy and Peter not to read any more on Africa." (40)

"Of course

of course." He patted her. (41)

"Promise?" (42)

"Sure." (43)

"And lock the nursery for a few days unti
l I get my nerves settled." (44)

"You know how difficult Peter is about that. When I punished him a month ago by
locking the nursery for even a few hours

the tantrum be threw! And Wendy too. They
live for the nursery." (45)

"It's got to be lo
cked, that's all there is to it." (46)


"All right." Reluctantly he locked the huge door. "You've been working too hard. You
need a rest." (47)

"I don't know

I don't know," she said, blowing her nose, sitting down in a chair that
immediately beg
an to rock and comfort her. "Maybe I don't have enough to do. Maybe I
have time to think too much. Why don't we shut the whole house off for a few days and
take a vacation?" (48)

"You mean you want to fry my eggs for me?" (49)

"Yes." She nodded. (50)

"And dam my socks?" (51)

"Yes." A frantic, watery
eyed nodding. (52)

"And sweep the house?" (53)

"Yes, yes

oh, yes!'' (54)

"But I thought that's why we bought this house, so we wouldn't have to do any

"That's just it. I feel like I don't belong here. The house is wife and mother now, and
nursemaid. Can I compete with an African veldt? Can I give a bath and scrub the
children as efficiently or quickly as the automatic scrub bath can? I
cannot. And it isn't
just me. It's you. You've been awfully nervous lately." (56)

"I suppose I have been smoking too much." (57)

"You look as if you didn't know what to do with yourself in this house, either. You
smoke a little more every morning

and drink a little more every afternoon and need a
little more sedative every night. You're beginning to feel unnecessary too." (58)

"Am I?" He paused and tried to feel into himself to see what was really there. (59)

"Oh, George!" She looked bey
ond him, at the nursery door. "Those lions can't get out

of there, can they?" (60)

He looked at the door and saw it tremble as if something had jumped against it from
the other side. (61)

"Of course not," he said. (62)

At dinner they ate a
lone, for Wendy and Peter were at a special plastic carnival
across town and had televised home to say they'd be late, to go ahead eating. So
George Hadley, bemused, sat watching the dining
room table produce warm dishes of
food from its mechanical interio
r. (63)

"We forgot the ketchup," he said. (64)

"Sorry," said a small voice within the table, and ketchup appeared. (65)

As for the nursery, thought George Hadley, it won't hurt for the children to be locked
out of it awhile. Too much of anyt
hing isn't good for anyone. And it was clearly indicated
that the children had been spending a little too much time on Africa. That sun. He could
feel it on his neck, still, like a hot paw. And the lions. And the smell of blood.
Remarkable how the nursery
caught the telepathic emanations of the children's minds
and created life to fill their every desire. The children thought lions, and there were
lions. The children thought zebras, and there were zebras. Sun
sun. Giraffes

Death and death. (66

That last. He chewed tastelessly on the meat that the table had cut for him. Death
thoughts. They were awfully young, Wendy and Peter, for death thoughts. Or, no, you
were never too young, really. Long before you knew what death was you were wishing


on someone else. When you were two years old you were shooting people with cap
pistols. (67)

But this

the long, hot African veldt
the awful death in the jaws of a lion. And
repeated again and again. (68)

"Where are you going?" (69)

didn't answer Lydia. Preoccupied, be let the lights glow softly on ahead of him,
extinguish behind him as he padded to the nursery door. He listened against it. Far
away, a lion roared. (70)

He unlocked the door and opened it. Just before he stepped i
nside, he heard a
faraway scream. And then another roar from the lions, which subsided quickly. (71)

He stepped into Africa. How many times in the last year had he opened this door
and found Wonderland, Alice, the Mock Turtle, or Aladdin and his Mag
ical Lamp, or
Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz, or Dr. Doolittle, or the cow jumping over a very real
all the delightful contraptions of a make
believe world. How often had he seen
Pegasus flying in the sky ceiling, or seen fountains of red fireworks,

or heard angel
voices singing. But now, is yellow hot Africa, this bake oven with murder in the heat.
Perhaps Lydia was right. Perhaps they needed a little vacation from the fantasy which
was growing a bit too real for ten
old children. It was all ri
ght to exercise one's
mind with gymnastic fantasies, but when the lively child mind settled on one pattern... ?
It seemed that, at a distance, for the past month, he had heard lions roaring, and
smelled their strong odor seeping as far away as his study d
oor. But, being busy, he
had paid it no attention. (72)

George Hadley stood on the African grassland alone. The lions looked up from their
feeding, watching him. The only flaw to the illusion was the open door through which he
could see his wife, far
down the dark hall, like a framed picture, eating her dinner
abstractedly. (73)

"Go away," he said to the lions. (74)

They did not go. (75)

He knew the principle of the room exactly. You sent out your thoughts. Whatever you
thought would appear. "Let's have Aladdin and his lamp," he snapped. The veldtland
remained; the lions remained. (76)

"Come on, room! I demand Aladdin!" he said.


Nothing happened. The lions mumbled in their baked pelts. (78)

"Aladdin!" (79)

He went back to dinner. "The fool room's out of order," he said. "It won't respond."

" (81)

"Or what?" (82)

"Or it can't respond,"
said Lydia, "because the children have thought about Africa
and lions and killing so many days that the room's in a rut." (83)

"Could be." (84)

"Or Peter's set it to remain that way." (85)

"Set it?" (86)

"He may have got into the machin
ery and fixed something." (87)

"Peter doesn't know machinery." (88)

"He's a wise one for ten. That I.Q. of his
" (89)


" (90)

"Hello, Mom. Hello, Dad." (91)

The Hadleys turned. Wendy and Peter were coming in the fro
nt door, cheeks like
peppermint candy, eyes like bright blue agate marbles, a smell of ozone on their
jumpers from their trip in the helicopter. (92)

"You're just in time for supper," said both parents. (93)

"We're full of strawberry ice cream an
d hot dogs," said the children, holding hands.
"But we'll sit and watch." (94)

"Yes, come tell us about the nursery," said George Hadley. (95)

The brother and sister blinked at him and then at each other. "Nursery?" (96)

"All about Africa an
d everything," said the father with false joviality. (97)

"I don't understand," said Peter. (98)

"Your mother and I were just traveling through Africa with rod and reel; Tom Swift
and his Electric Lion," said George Hadley. (99)

"There's no
Africa in the nursery," said Peter simply. (100)

"Oh, come now, Peter. We know better." (101)

"I don't remember any Africa," said Peter to Wendy. "Do you?" (102)

"No." (103)

"Run see and come tell." (104)

She obeyed. (105)

"Wendy, come back here!" said George Hadley, but she was gone. The house lights
followed her like a flock of fireflies. Too late, he realized he had forgotten to lock the
nursery door after his last inspection. (106)

"Wendy'll look and come tell
us," said Peter. (107)

"She doesn't have to tell me. I've seen it." (108)

"I'm sure you're mistaken, Father." (109)

"I'm not, Peter. Come along now." (110)

But Wendy was back. "It's not Africa," she said breathlessly. (111)

see about this," said George Hadley, and they all walked down the hall
together and opened the nursery door. (112)

There was a green, lovely forest, a lovely river, a purple mountain, high voices
singing, and Rima, lovely and mysterious, lurking in th
e trees with colorful flights of
butterflies, like animated bouquets, lingering in her long hair. The African veldtland was
gone. The lions were gone. Only Rima was here now, singing a song so beautiful that it
brought tears to your eyes. (113)

e Hadley looked in at the changed scene. "Go to bed," he said to the children.

They opened their mouths. (115)

"You heard me," he said. (116)

They went off to the air closet, where a wind sucked them like brown leaves up the
flue to th
eir slumber rooms. (117)

George Hadley walked through the singing glade and picked up something that lay in
the comer near where the lions had been. He walked slowly back to his wife. (118)

"What is that?" she asked. (119)

"An old wallet of

mine," he said. (120)


He showed it to her. The smell of hot grass was on it and the smell of a lion. There
were drops of saliva on it, it bad been chewed, and there were blood smears on both
sides. (121)

He closed the nursery door and locked it,

tight. (122)

In the middle of the night he was still awake and he knew his wife was awake. "Do
you think Wendy changed it?" she said at last, in the dark room. (123)

"Of course." (124)

"Made it from a veldt into a forest and put Rima there
instead of lions?" (125)

"Yes." (126)

"Why?" (127)

"I don't know. But it's staying locked until I find out." (128)

"How did your wallet get there?" (129)

"I don't know anything," he said, "except that I'm beginning to be sorry we b
that room for the children. If children are neurotic at all, a room like that
" (130)

"It's supposed to help them work off their neuroses in a healthful way." (131)

"I'm starting to wonder." He stared at the ceiling. (132)

"We've given the children everything they ever wanted. Is this our reward
disobedience?" (133)

"Who was it said, 'Children are carpets, they should be stepped on occasionally'?
We've never lifted a hand. They're insufferable

let's admi
t it. They come and go when
they like; they treat us as if we were offspring.

They're spoiled and we're spoiled." (134)

"They've been acting funny ever since you forbade them to take the rocket to New
York a few months ago." (135)

"They're not ol
d enough to do that alone, I explained." (136)

"Nevertheless, I've noticed they've been decidedly cool toward us since." (137)

"I think I'll have David McClean come tomorrow morning to have a look at Africa."

"But it's not Africa now,
it's Green Mansions country and Rima." (139)

"I have a feeling it'll be Africa again before then."


A moment later they heard the screams.


Two screams. Two people screaming from downstairs. And then a roar of lions.


ndy and Peter aren't in their rooms," said his wife.


He lay in his bed with his beating heart. "No," he said. "They've broken into the


"Those screams

they sound familiar."


"Do they?"


"Yes, awfully."


And although their beds tried very bard, the two adults couldn't be rocked to sleep for
another hour. A smell of cats was in the night air.


"Father?" said Peter.




Peter looked at his shoes. He never looked a
t his father any more, nor at his mother.

"You aren't going to lock up the nursery for good, are you?"



"That all depends."


"On what?" snapped Peter.


"On you and your sister. If you intersperse this Africa with a
little variety

Sweden perhaps, or Denmark or China


"I thought we were free to play as we wished."


"You are, within reasonable bounds."


"What's wrong with Africa, Father?"


"Oh, so now you admit you have b
een conjuring up Africa, do you?"


"I wouldn't want the nursery locked up," said Peter coldly. "Ever."


"Matter of
fact, we're thinkin
g of turning the whole house
off for

bout a month. Live
sort of a carefree one
all existence."


"That sounds dreadful! Would I have to tie my own shoes instead

letting the shoe
do it? And b
rush my own teeth and comb my hair


give myself a bath?"


"It would be fun for a change, don't you think?"


"No, it woul
d be horrid. I didn't like it when you took out the picture

painter last


"That's because I wanted you to learn to paint all by yourself, son."


"I don't want to do an
ything but look and listen and
what else

is there to d


"All right, go play in Africa."


"Will you shut off the house sometime soon?"


"We're considering it."


"I don't think you'd better consider it any more, Father."


"I won't have any threats from my son


"Very well." And Peter strolled off to the nursery.





"Am I on time?" said David McClean.


"Breakfast?" asked George Hadley.


"Thanks, had some. What's the trouble?"


"David, you're a psycholog


"I should hope so."


"Well, then, have a look at our nursery. You saw it a year ago when you

dropped by;
did you notice anything peculiar about it then?"


"Can't say

did; the usual violences, a tendency toward
a sligh


re or
there, usual in children
se they feel

persecuted by

parents constantly, but, oh,
really nothing."


They walked down the ball. (180)

"I locked the nursery

up," explained the

father, "and
the child
ren broke back into it

the night. I let them

stay so they could form the patterns for you to see."


There was a terrible screaming from the nursery.


"There it is," said George Hadley. "See what you make of it."


They walked in on the childr
en without rapping.


The screams had faded. The lions were feeding.



"Run outside a moment, children," said George Hadley. "No, don't change

the mental
combination. Leave the walls as they are. Get!"


With the c
hildren gone,
the two men stood

studying the lions clustered

at a distance,
eating with great relish whatever it was they had caught.


"I wish I knew what it was," said George Hadley.

"Sometimes I can

almost see. Do
you think if I brought high
powered binocula
rs here and


David McClean laughed dryly. "Hardly." He turned to study all


walls. "How long
has this been going on?"


"A little over a month."


"It certainly doesn't feel good."


"I want facts, not feelings."


"My de
ar George, a psychologist never saw a fact in

his life. He only

hears about
feelings; vague
gs. This doesn't feel good, I

tell you.

Trust my hunches and my
instincts. I
have a nose for something bad.
This is

very bad. My advice to you

is to have
the whole damn room torn down and your

children brought to me every day during the
next year for treatment."


"Is it that bad?"


"I'm afraid so. One of the original uses of these nurseries was so that

we could
the patt
erns left on the
walls by the child's mind, study at

our leisure, and
help the child.
In this case, however, the room has become

a channel toward
destructive thoughts,
instead of a release away from them."


"Didn't you sense this before?"


"I sensed
only that you
bad spoiled your children more
than most. And

now you're
letting them down in some way. What way?"


"I wouldn't let them go to New York."


"What else?"


"I've taken a
few machines from the house and

threatened them, a month

ago, with
closing up the nursery unless they did their homework. I did close

it for a few days to
show I meant business."


"Ah, ha!"


"Does that mean anything?"


"Everything. Where before they had a S
anta Claus now they have


Children prefer Santas. You've let this room and this house replace

you and your wife in
your children's affections. This room is their mother

father, far more impor
tant in
their lives than their
real parents. And

now you come along
and want to shut i
t off. No
wonder there's hatred


You can feel it coming out of the sky. Feel that sun.
George, you'll have to

nge your life. Like too many others, you've built it


comforts. Why, you'd starve tom
orrow if something went wrong in

You wouldn't know
bow to

tap an egg. Nevertheless, turn

off. Start new. It'll
take time. But we'l
l make good children out of bad


a year, wait and see."


"But won't the shock be too much

for the children, shutting the room up

abruptly, for


"I don't want them going any deeper into this, that's all."


The lions were finished with their red feast.


The lions wer
e standing on the edge of the clearing watc
hing the




"Now I'm feeling pers
ecuted," said McClean. "Let's
get out of here. I

never have
cared for these damned rooms. Make me nervous."


lions look real, don't they?" said George Hadley. I don't suppose

there's any





that they could become real?"


"Not that I know."


"Some flaw in the machinery, a tampering or something?"




They went to the door.


"I don't imagine the room will like being turned off," said the father.


"Nothing ever likes to die

even a room."


"I wonder if it hates me for wanting to switch it off?"


"Paranoia is thick around here today,"
said Dav
id McClean. "You can

follow it

like a
spoor. Hello." (219)

He bent
and picked up a bloody scarf. "This



"No." George Hadley's face was rigid. "It belongs to Lydia."


They went to the fuse box together and threw the switch t
hat killed the



The two children were in hysterics. They screamed and pranced and threw

They yelled and sobbed and swore and jumped at the furniture.


"You can't do that to the nursery, you can't!''




The children flung themselves onto a couch, weeping.


"George," said Lydia Hadley, "turn on the nursery, just for a


moments. You can't
be so abrupt."




"You can't be so cruel..."


ia, it's off, and it stays off. And the whole damn house dies as of

here and now.
The more I see of the mess we've put ourselves in, the more it


me. We've been
our mechanical, electronic navels for

too long. My God, how we need a
th of honest air!"


And he marched about the house turning

the voice clocks,


stoves, the
heaters, the shoe

shiners, the shoe lacers, the body scrubbers

d swabbers and
massagers, and
very other machine be could put

his hand



The house was full of dead bodies, it seemed. It felt like a mechanical

metery. So
silent. None of the humming hidden energy
of machines waiting

to function at the tap of
a button.


"Don't let them do it!" wailed Peter at the ceiling,

as if
he was

talking to
the house,
the nursery. "Don't let Father kill

everything." He

turned to
his father. "Oh, I hate you!"


"Insults won't get you anywhere."


"I wish you were dead!"



were, for a long while. Now we're going
to really

start living.

Instead of being
handled and massaged, we're going to live."



Wendy was still crying and Peter joined her again. "Just a moment, just

one moment,
just another moment of nursery," they wailed.


"Oh, George," said
the wife, "it can't hurt."


"All right

right, if they'll just shut up. One minute, mind you,

and then off forever."


"Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!" sang the children, smiling with wet faces.


"And then
we're goin
g on a vacation.

David McClean

is coming back in

half an hour
help us move out and get to the airport. I'm going to dress.

You turn the nursery on
for a minute, Lydia, just a minute, mind you."


And the three of them went babbling off while he let
himself be

vacuumed upstairs
h the air flue and set about dressing himself.


minute later Lydia appeared.


"I'll be glad when we get away," she sighed.


"Did you leave them in the nursery?"


"I wanted to dress too. Oh,
that horrid

Africa. What can they see in



"Well, in five
minutes we'll be on our way to

Lord, how did we

ever get in this
house? What prompted us to buy a nightmare?"


"Pride, money, foolishness."


"I think we'd better

get dow
nstairs before those kids get engrossed

with those
damned beasts again."


Just then they heard the children calling, "Dadd

Mommy, come quick


They went downstairs in the air flue and ran down the
hall. The

children were
re in sight. "Wendy? Peter!"


They ran into the nursery. The veldtland was empty
save for the lions

looking at them. "Peter, Wendy?"


The door slammed.


"Wendy, Peter!"


George Hadley and his wife whirled an
d ran back to the door.


"Open the door!" cried George Ha
dley, trying the knob. "Why,

locked it from
the outside! Peter!" He beat at the door. "Open up!"


He heard Peter's voice outside, against the door.


"Don't let t
hem switch off the nursery and the house," he was saying.


Mr. and Mrs. George Hadley beat at the door. "Now, don't be ridiculous,

children. It's
time to go. Mr. McClean'll be here in a minute and..."


And then they heard the sounds.


The lion
s on three sides of them, in
the yellow veldt grass, padding

through the dry
straw, rumbling and roaring in their throats.


The lions.


Mr. Hadley looked a
t his wife and they turned
and looked back at the

beasts edging
slowly forward crouching, tails stiff.


Mr. and Mrs. Hadley screamed.


nly they realized why those other screams had






"Well, here I am,"
David McClean in the nursery
doorway, "Oh,

o." He stared
at the two children seated in the center of the open glade

eating a l
ittle picnic lunch.

Beyond them
was the water hole and the yellow

and; above was the hot sun. He
began to
spire. "Where

are your

father and mother?"



children looked up and smiled. "Oh, they'll be here directly."


"Good, we must get going." At a distance
Mr. McClean saw the lions

ng and then quieting down to
feed in silence under the

shady trees.


He squinted at the lions with his hand tip to his eyes.


Now the lions were done feeding. They moved to the water hole to drink.


A shadow flickered over Mr. McClean's hot face. Many shadows flickered.

vultures were dropping do
wn the blazing sky.


"A cup of tea?" asked Wendy in the silence.



Adolescents’ TV Watching Is Linked to Violent Behavior

sychology: A 17
year study tracked 700 young people into their adult lives. Hours of
viewing were
correlated with acts of aggression.


Rosie Mestel, Los Angeles Times staff writer

1) Adolescents who watch more than one hour of television a day are more likely to
commit aggressive and violent acts as adults, according to a 17


today in the journal Science.

2) The study, which tracked more than 700 adolescents into adulthood, found that
young people watching one to three hours of television daily were almost four times
more likely to commit violent and aggressive acts
later in life than those who watched
less than an hour of TV a day. Girls as well as boys exhibited increased aggression,
according to the study, which was hailed by psychologists and social scientists as more
evidence of TV's harmful effects.

(3) "It's a

very important study and has a great deal of credibility
it very niftily isolates
television as a causal factor," said George Comstock, a researcher on media violence at
Syracuse University in New York.

(4) It is also the first study, Comstock said, to
clearly link TV viewing among adolescents
to later, adult violence.

Families Were Selected Randomly

(5) The study authors, from Columbia University and Mount Sinai Medical Center in
New York, used data from a wider


of the behavior of childr
en in 707
New York state families. The families had been selected randomly
not because their
children had any behavior problems.

) Over the study's 17 years, the children and their parents were periodically
interviewed about TV habits, violence and agg
ression. Interviews began in 1983, when
the children's average age was 14; follow
up interviews were conducted at average
ages of 16, 22 and 30.

(7) The scientists also examined state and FBI records in 2000 to find out if any of those
in the study
who b
y then had reached an average age of 30
had been arrested or
charged with a crime.

(8) The authors found that 5.7% of those who reported watching less than one hour of
TV a day as adolescents committed aggressive acts against others in subsequent
either by their own

, a parent's report or legal records. Those acts
included threats, assaults, fights, robbery and using a weapon to commit a crime.

(9) That figure rose to 22.5% of those who watched TV for one to three hours a day and
to 28.8%

of those who watched more than three hours daily.


(10) The size of the effect was surprising, said lead author Jeffrey Johnson, assistant
clinical professor of psychology in Columbia University's psychiatry department.

(11) He and his coauthors, who con
ducted the study with federal funds, believe the
findings help cement the link between TV and violence. The authors used statistics to
rule out other possible causes, such as neglect, poverty and living in a violent

12) The study did not describe the kinds of programs children were watching, drawing
criticism from Jonathan Freedman, a professor of psychology at the University of
Toronto. He also said such studies don't clearly demonstrate that viewing programs is
cause of subsequent violence.

"To suggest that because you get this effect that watching two hours a day causes
aggressiveness is going so far beyond the data it's shocking," Freedman said.

Critics Say Parents Can Monitor Viewing

(14) The Motion Pic
ture Assn. of America declined to comment on the report until staff
members had a chance to read it. Association spokesman


Taylor said parents
have the technology to easily control what their children watch.

(15) "The V
chip puts a new level of
control into a parent's hands, allowing them to
determine and set the level of programming that they wish to allow in their home at any
given time," he said.

(16) Six major medical groups
including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the
American Academy

of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Medical
have stated that they believe TV violence is a significant problem.

(17) According to Joanne Cantor, professor emeritus of the University of Wisconsin in
Madison and a longtime media viol
ence researcher, "The implication for parents is that
unfettered access to television is not good for your child. It has these negative effects
which affect them personally in terms of feeling more hostile. And it looks like it affects
other people too
hrough expression of that hostility in aggressive behavior towards


“Harrison Bergeron”

by Kurt Vonnegut

(1) The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal
before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than
anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or
quicker than
anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th
Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United
States Handicapper General.

(2) Some things about living still weren't quite right, though. April

for instance, still
drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the
G men took George and Hazel Bergeron's fourteen
old son, Harrison, away.

(3) It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn't think abo
ut it very hard.
Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn't think about
anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above
normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by la
w to wear it
at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the
transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking
unfair advantage of their brains.

(4) George and Hazel were watching te
levision. There were tears on Hazel's
cheeks, but she'd forgotten for the moment what they were about.

(5) On the television screen were ballerinas.

(6) A buzzer sounded in George's head. His thoughts fled in panic, like bandits from
a burglar alarm.


"That was a real pretty dance, that dance they just did," said Hazel.

(8) "Huh" said George.

(9) "That dance
it was nice," said Hazel.

(10) "Yup," said George. He tried to think a little about the ballerinas. They weren't
really very good
no better tha
n anybody else would have been, anyway. They were
burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that
no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something
the cat drug in. George was toying

with the vague notion that maybe dancers shouldn't

be handicapped. But he didn't get very far with it before another noise in his ear radio
scattered his thoughts.

(11) George winced. So did two out of the eight ballerinas.

(12) Hazel saw him wince. Hav
ing no mental handicap herself, she had to ask
George what the latest sound had been.

(13) "Sounded like somebody hitting a milk bottle with a ball peen hammer," said

(14) "I'd think it would be real interesting, hearing all the different sounds," said
Hazel a little envious. "All the things they think up."

(15) "Um," said George.

(16) "Only, if I was Handicapper General, you know what I would do?" said Hazel.
as a matter of fact, bore a strong resemblance to the Handicapper General, a
woman named Diana Moon Glampers. "If I was Diana Moon Glampers," said Hazel, "I'd
have chimes on Sunday
just chimes. Kind of in honor of religion."

(17) "I could think, if it was

just chimes," said George.

(18) "Well
maybe make 'em real loud," said Hazel. "I think I'd make a good
Handicapper General."

(19) "Good as anybody else," said George.

(20) "Who knows better then I do what normal is?" said Hazel.

(21) "Right," said Geor
ge. He began to think glimmeringly about his abnormal son
who was now in jail, about Harrison, but a twenty
gun salute in his head stopped

(22) "Boy!" said Hazel, "that was a doozy, wasn't it?"

(23) It was such a doozy that George was white and
trembling, and tears stood on
the rims of his red eyes. Two of the eight ballerinas had collapsed to the studio floor,
were holding their temples.

(24) "All of a sudden you look so tired," said Hazel. "Why don't you stretch out on
the sofa, so's you can r
est your handicap bag on the pillows, honeybunch." She was
referring to the forty
seven pounds of birdshot in a canvas bag, which was padlocked
around George's neck. "Go on and rest the bag for a little while," she said. "I don't care
if you're not equal t
o me for a while."


(25) George weighed the bag with his hands. "I don't mind it," he said. "I don't notice
it any more. It's just a part of me."

(26) "You been so tired lately
kind of wore out," said Hazel. "If there was just some
way we could make a lit
tle hole in the bottom of the bag, and just take out a few of them
lead balls. Just a few."

(27) "Two years in prison and two thousand dollars fine for every ball I took out,"
said George. "I don't call that a bargain."

(28) "If you could just take a few

out when you came home from work," said Hazel.
"I mean
you don't compete with anybody around here. You just set around."

(29) "If I tried to get away with it," said George, "then other people'd get away with it
and pretty soon we'd be right back to the d
ark ages again, with everybody competing
against everybody else. You wouldn't like that, would you?"

(30) "I'd hate it," said Hazel.

(31) "There you are," said George. The minute people start cheating on laws, what
do you think happens to society?"


If Hazel hadn't been able to come up with an answer to this question, George
couldn't have supplied one. A siren was going off in his head.

(33) "Reckon it'd fall all apart," said Hazel.

(34) "What would?" said George blankly.

(35) "Society," said Haze
l uncertainly. "Wasn't that what you just said?

"Who knows?" said George.

(36) The television program was suddenly interrupted for a news bulletin. It wasn't
clear at first as to what the bulletin was about, since the announcer, like all announcers,
had a

serious speech impediment. For about half a minute, and in a state of high
excitement, the announcer tried to say, "Ladies and Gentlemen."

(37) He finally gave up, handed the bulletin to a ballerina to read.

(38) "That's all right
" Hazel said of the an
nouncer, "he tried. That's the big thing. He
tried to do the best he could with what God gave him. He should get a nice raise for
trying so hard."

(39) "Ladies and Gentlemen," said the ballerina, reading the bulletin. She must have
been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous. And it was

easy to see that she was the strongest and most graceful of all the dancers, for her
icap bags were as big as those worn by two
hundred pound men.

(40) And she had to apologize at once for her voice, which was a very unfair voice
for a woman to use. Her voice was a warm, luminous, timeless melody. "Excuse me
she said, and she began agai
n, making her voice absolutely uncompetitive.

(41) "Harrison Bergeron, age fourteen," she said in a grackle squawk, "has just
escaped from jail, where he was held on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the
government. He is a genius and an athlete, is unde
handicapped, and should be
regarded as extremely dangerous."

(42) A police photograph of Harrison Bergeron was flashed on the screen
down, then sideways, upside down again, then right side up. The picture showed the
full length of Harrison against

a background calibrated in feet and inches. He was
exactly seven feet tall.

(43) The rest of Harrison's appearance was Halloween and hardware. Nobody had
ever born heavier handicaps. He had outgrown hindrances faster than the H
G men
could think them up.

Instead of a little ear radio for a mental handicap, he wore a
tremendous pair of earphones, and spectacles with thick wavy lenses. The spectacles
were intended to make him not only half blind, but to give him whanging headaches

(44) Scrap metal

was hung all over him. Ordinarily, there was a certain symmetry, a
military neatness to the handicaps issued to strong people, but Harrison looked like a
walking junkyard. In the race of life, Harrison carried three hundred pounds.

(45) And to offset his

good looks, the H
G men required that he wear at all times a
red rubber ball for a nose, keep his eyebrows shaved off, and cover his even white
teeth with black caps at snaggle
tooth random.

(46) "If you see this boy," said the ballerina, "do not

I rep
eat, do not

try to reason
with him."

(47) There was the shriek of a door being torn from its hinges.

(48) Screams and barking cries of consternation came from the television set. The
photograph of Harrison Bergeron on the screen jumped again and again,

as though
dancing to the tune of an earthquake.

(49) George Bergeron correctly identified the earthquake, and well he might have

for many was the time his own home had danced to the same crashing tune. "My God
said George, "that must be Harrison!"


50) The realization was blasted from his mind instantly by the sound of an
automobile collision in his head.

(51) When George could open his eyes again, the photograph of Harrison was
gone. A living, breathing Harrison filled the screen.

(52) Clanking, c
lownish, and huge, Harrison stood

in the center of the studio. The
knob of the uprooted studio door was still in his hand. Ballerinas, technicians,
musicians, and announcers cowered on their knees before him, expecting to die.

(53) "I am the Emperor!" c
ried Harrison. "Do you hear? I am the Emperor!
Everybody must do what I say at once!" He stamped his foot and the studio shook.

(54) "Even as I stand here" he bellowed, "crippled, hobbled, sickened

I am a
greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now w
atch me become what I can become!"

(55) Harrison tore the straps of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper, tore
straps guaranteed to support five thousand pounds.

(56) Harrison's scrap
iron handicaps crashed to the floor.

(57) Harrison thrust his t
humbs under the bar of the padlock that secured his head
harness. The bar snapped like celery. Harrison smashed his headphones and
spectacles against the wall.

(58) He flung away his rubber
ball nose, revealed a man that would have awed
Thor, the god of t

(59) "I shall now select my Empress!" he said, looking down on the cowering people.
"Let the first woman who dares rise to her feet claim her mate and her throne!"

(60) A moment passed, and then a ballerina arose, swaying like a willow.

(61) Har
rison plucked the mental handicap from her ear, snapped off her physical
handicaps with marvelous delicacy. Last of all he removed her mask.

(62) She was blindingly beautiful.

(63) "Now
" said Harrison, taking her hand, "shall we show the people the mean
of the word dance? Music!" he commanded.

(64) The musicians scrambled back into their chairs, and Harrison stripped them of
their handicaps, too. "Play your best," he told them, "and I'll make you barons and
dukes and earls."


(65) The music began. It

was normal at first
cheap, silly, false. But Harrison
snatched two musicians from their chairs, waved them like batons as he sang the music
as he wanted it played. He slammed them back into their chairs.

(66) The music began again and was much improved.

(67) Harrison and his Empress merely listened to the music for a while
gravely, as though synchronizing their heartbeats with it.

(68) They shifted their weights to their toes.

(69) Harrison placed his big hands on the girl’s tiny waist, letting her sense the
weightlessness that would soon be hers.

(70) And then, in an explosion of joy and grace, into the air they sprang!

(71) Not only were the laws of the land abandoned, but t
he law of gravity and the
laws of motion as well.

(72) They reeled, whirled, swiveled, flounced, capered, gamboled, and spun.

(73) They leaped like deer on the moon.

(74) The studio ceiling was thirty feet high, but each leap brought the dancers
to it.

(75) It became their obvious intention to kiss the ceiling. They kissed it.

(76) And then, neutraling gravity with love and pure will, they remained suspended
in air inches below the ceiling, and they kissed each other for a long, long time.


It was then that Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came into
the studio with a double
barreled ten
gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor
and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor.

(78) Diana Moon Glampers loaded the gun ag
ain. She aimed it at the musicians and
told them they had ten seconds to get their handicaps back on.

(79) It was then that the Bergerons' television tube burned out.

(80) Hazel turned to comment about the blackout to George. But George had gone
out into

the kitchen for a can of beer.

(81) George came back in with the beer, paused while a handicap signal shook him
up. And then he sat down again. "You been crying" he said to Hazel.

(82) "Yup," she said.


(83) "What about?" he said.

(84) "I forget," she
said. "Something real sad on television."

(85) "What was it?" he said.

(86) "It's all kind of mixed up in my mind," said Hazel.

(87) "Forget sad things," said George.

(88) "I always do," said Hazel.

(89) "That's my girl," said George. He winced. There

was the sound of a riveting gun
in his head.

(90) "Gee

I could tell that one was a doozy," said Hazel.

(91) "You can say that again," said George.

(92) "Gee
" said Hazel, "I could tell that one was a doozy."


“The Pedestrian”

by Ray Bradbury

To enter out into that silence that was the city at eight o'clock of a misty evening
in November, to put your feet upon that buckling concrete walk, to step over grassy
seams and make your way, hands in pockets, through the silences, that was what Mr.
ard Mead most dearly loved to do. He would stand upon the corner of an
intersection and peer down long moonlit avenues of sidewalk in four directions,
deciding which way to go, but it really made no difference; he was alone in this world of
2053 A.D., or a
s good as alone, and with a final decision made, a path selected, he
would stride off, sending patterns of frosty air before him like the smoke of a cigar.

(2) Sometimes he would walk for hours and miles and return only at midnight to his
house. And on his

way he would see the cottages and homes with their dark windows,
and it was not unequal to walking through a graveyard where only the faintest glimmers
of firefly light appeared in flickers behind the windows. Sudden gray phantoms seemed
to manifest upon
inner room walls where a curtain was still undrawn against the night,
or there were whisperings and murmurs where a window in a tomb
like building was still

(3) Mr. Leonard Mead would pause, cock his head, listen, look, and march on, his
feet making
no noise on the lumpy walk. For long ago he had wisely changed to
sneakers when strolling at night, because the dogs in intermittent squads would parallel
his journey with barkings if he wore hard heels, and lights might click on and faces
appear and an en
tire street be startled by the passing of a lone figure, himself, in the
early November evening.

(4) On this particular evening he began his journey in a westerly direction, toward the
hidden sea. There was a good crystal frost in the air; it cut the nose
and made the lungs
blaze like a Christmas tree inside; you could feel the cold light going on and off, all the
branches filled with invisible snow. He listened to the faint push of his soft shoes
through autumn leaves with satisfaction, and whistled a cold

quiet whistle between his
teeth, occasionally picking up a leaf as he passed, examining its skeletal pattern in the
infrequent lamplights as he went on, smelling its rusty smell.

(5) 'Hello, in there,' he whispered to every house on every side as he moved
. 'What's
up vtonight on Channel 4, Channel 7, Channel 9? Where are the cowboys rushing, and
do I see the United States Cavalry over the next hill to the rescue?'

(6) The street was silent and long and empty, with only his shadow moving like the
shadow of
a hawk in mid
country. If he closed his eyes and stood very still, frozen, he

could imagine himself upon the center of a plain, a wintry, windless Arizona desert with
no house in a thousand miles, and only dry river beds, the street, for company.

(7) 'What

is it now?' he asked the houses, noticing his wrist watch. Eight
thirty P.M.?
Time for a dozen assorted murders? A quiz? A revue? A comedian falling off the

(8) Was that a murmur of laughter from within a moon
white house? He hesitated, but
went o
n when nothing more happened. He stumbled over a particularly uneven section
of sidewalk. The cement was vanishing under flowers and grass. In ten years of walking
by night or day, for thousands of miles, he had never met another person walking, not
one in

all that time.

(9) He came to a cloverleaf intersection which stood silent where two main highways
crossed the town. During the day it was a thunderous surge of cars, the gas stations
open, a great insect rustling and a ceaseless jockeying for position as

the scarab
beetles, a faint incense puttering from their exhausts, skimmed homeward to the far
directions. But now these highways, too, were like streams in a dry season, all stone
and bed and moon radiance.

(10 He turned back on a side street, circling a
round toward his home. He was within
a block of his destination when the lone car turned a corner quite suddenly and flashed
a fierce white cone of light upon him. He stood entranced, not unlike a night moth,
stunned by the illumination, and then drawn tow
ard it.

(11) A metallic voice called to him:

(12) 'Stand still. Stay where you are! Don't move!'

(13) He halted.

(14) 'Put up your hands!'

(15) 'But
' he said.

(16) 'Your hands up! Or we'll shoot!'

(17) The police, of course, but what a rare, incredible th
ing; in a city of three million,
there was only one police car left, wasn't that correct? Ever since a year ago, 2052, the
election year, the force had been cut down from three cars to one. Crime was ebbing;
there was no need now for the police, save for t
his one lone car wandering and
wandering the empty streets.

(18) 'Your name?' said the police car in a metallic whisper. He couldn't see the men
in it for the bright light in his eyes.


(19) 'Leonard Mead,' he said.

(20) 'Speak up!'

(21) 'Leonard Mead!'

) ‘Business or profession?'

(23) 'I guess you'd call me a writer.'

(24) ‘No profession,' said the police car, as if talking to itself. The light held him fixed,
like a museum specimen, needle thrust through chest.

(25) 'You might say that,' said Mr. Mead. He hadn't written in years. Magazines and
books didn't sell anymore. Everything went on in the tomb
like houses at night now, he
thought, continuing his fancy. The tombs, ill
lit by television light, where the peop
le sat
like the dead, the gray or multi
colored lights touching their faces, but never really
touching them.

(26) 'No profession,' said the phonograph voice, hissing. 'What are you doing out?'

(27) 'Walking,' said Leonard Mead.

(28) 'Walking!'

(29) 'Just

walking,' he said simply, but his face felt cold.

(30) 'Walking, just walking, walking?'

(31) 'Yes, sir.'

(32) 'Walking where? For what?'

(33) 'Walking for air. Walking to see.'

(34) 'Your address!'

(35) 'Eleven South Saint James Street.'

(36) 'And
there is air in your house, you have an air conditioner, Mr. Mead?'

(37) ‘Yes.'

(38) 'And you have a viewing screen in your house to see with?'

(39) 'No.’


(40) 'No?' There was a crackling quiet that in itself was an accusation.

'Are you married, Mr Me

(41) 'No.'

(42) 'Not married,' said the police voice behind the fiery beam. The moon was high
and dear among the stars and the houses were gray and silent.

(43) 'Nobody wanted me,' said Leonard Mead with a smile.

(44) 'Don't speak unless you're spo
ken to!'

(45) Leonard Mead waited in the cold night.

(46) 'Just walking; Mr. Mead?'

(47) 'Yes.'

(48) But you haven't explained for what purpose.'

(49) 'I explained; for air, and to see, and just to walk.'

(50) 'Have you done this often?'

(51) ‘Every nigh
t for years.'

(52) The police car sat in the center of the street with its radio throat faintly humming.

(53) 'Well, Mr. Mead', it said.

(54) 'Is that all?' he asked politely.

(55) 'Yes,' said the voice. 'Here.' There was a sigh, a pop. The back door of
the police
car sprang wide. 'Get in.'

(56) 'Wait a minute, I haven't done anything!'

(57) 'Get in.'

(58) 'I protest!'

(59) 'Mr. Mead.'

(60) He walked like a man suddenly drunk. As he passed the front window of the car
he looked in. As he had expected, ther
e was no one in the front seat, no one in the car
at all.

(61) 'Get in.'


(62) He put his hand to the door and peered into the back seat, which was a little cell,
a little black jail with bars. It smelled of riveted steel. It smelled of harsh antiseptic; it

smelled too clean and hard and metallic. There was nothing soft there.

(63) 'Now if you had a wife to give you an alibi,' said the iron voice. 'But

(64) ‘Where are you taking me?'

(65) The car hesitated, or rather gave a faint whirring click, as if info
somewhere, was dropping card by punch

slotted card under electric eyes. 'To the
Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies.'

(66) He got in. The door shut with a soft thud. The police car rolled through the night
avenues, flashing i
ts dim lights ahead.

(67) They passed one house on one street a moment later
one house in an entire
city of houses that were dark, but this one particular house had all of its electric lights
brightly lit, every window a loud yellow illumination, square a
nd warm in the cool

(68) 'That's my house,' said Leonard Mead.

(69) No one answered him.

(70) The car moved down the empty riverbed streets and off away, leaving the empty
streets with the empty sidewalks, and no sound and no motion all the rest
of the chill
November night.


“For Conversation, Press #1”


Michael Alvear

(1) A funny thing happened on the way to the communications revolution: we
stopped talking to one another.

(2) I was walking in the park with a friend recently, and his
cell phone rang,
interrupting our conversation. There we were, walking and talking on a beautiful sunny
day and


I became invisible, absent from the conversation.

(3) The park was filled with people talking on their cell phones. They were passing
r people without looking at them, saying hello, noticing their babies or stopping to
pet their puppies. Evidently, the untethered electronic voice is preferable to human

(4) The telephone used to connect you to the absent. Now it makes people sitt
next to you feel absent. Recently I was in a car with three friends. The driver shushed
the rest of us because he could not hear the person on the other end of his cell phone.
There we were, four friends zooming down the highway, unable to talk to one
because of a gadget designed to make communication easier.

(5) Why is it that the more connected we get, the more disconnected I feel? Every
advance in communications technology is a setback to the intimacy of human
interaction. With e
mail and ins
tant messaging over the Internet, we can now
communicate without seeing or talking to one another. With voice mail, you can conduct
entire conversations without ever reaching anyone. If my mom has a question, I just
leave the answer on her machine.

(6) As
almost every conceivable contact between human beings gets automated,
the alienation index goes up. You can’t even call a person to get the phone number of
another person anymore. Directory assistance is almost always fully automated.

(7) Pumping gas at th
e station? Why say good
morning to the attendant when you
can swipe your credit card at the pump and save yourself the bother of human contact?

(8) Making a deposit at the bank? Why talk to a clerk who might live in the
neighborhood when you can just inser
t your card into the ATM?

(9) Pretty soon you won’t have the burden of making eye contact at the grocery
store. Some supermarket chains are using a self
scanner so you can check yourself
out, avoiding those annoying clerks who look at you and ask how you a
re doing.


(10) I am no Luddite. I own a cell phone, an ATM card, a voice
mail system, an e
mail account. Giving them up isn’t an option

they’re great for what they’re intended to
do. It’s their unintended consequences that make me cringe.

(11) More and mor
e, I find myself hiding behind e
mail to do a job meant for
conversation. Or being relieved that voice mail picked up because I didn’t really have
time to talk. The industry devoted to helping me keep in touch is making me lonelier

at least facilitating

my antisocial instincts.

(12) So I’ve put myself on technology restriction: no instant messaging with people
who live near me, no cell
phoning in the presence of friends, no letting the voice mail
pick up when I’m home.

(13) What good is all this gee

technology if there’s no one in the room to hear
you exclaim, “Gee whiz”?


“Antisocial Networking?”

by Hilary Stout

(1) “HEY, you

re a dork,” said the girl to the boy with a smile. “Just wanted you to

(2) “Thanks!” said the boy.

“Just kidding,” said the girl with another smile. “You’re only slightly dorky, but
other than that, you’re pretty normal


(4) They both laughed.

(5) “See you tomorrow,” said the boy.

(6) “O.K., see you,” said the girl.

(7) It was a pretty typi
cal pre
teen exchange, one familiar through the generations.
Except this one had a distinctly 2010 twist. It was conducted on

Facebook. The smiles
were colons with brackets. The laughs were typed ha ha’s. “O.K.” was just “K” and “See
you” was rendered as “
c ya.”

(8) Children used to actually talk to their friends. Those hours spent on the family
princess phone or hanging out with pals in the neighborhood after school vanished long
ago. But now, even chatting on cellphones or via e
mail (through which you ca
n at least
converse in paragraphs) is passé. For today’s teenagers and preteens, the give and
take of friendship seems to be conducted increasingly in the abbreviated snatches of
cellphone texts and instant messages, or through the very public forum of Fac
walls and


bulletins. (Andy Wilson, the 11
old boy involved in the banter
above, has 418 Facebook friends.)

(9) Last week, the

Pew Research Center

found that half of American teenagers

defined in the study as ages 12 through 17

send 5
0 or more

text messages

a day
and that one third send more than 100 a day. Two thirds of the texters surveyed by the
center’s Internet and American Life Project said they were more likely to use their
cellphones to text friends than to call them. Fifty
r percent said they text their friends
once a day, but only 33 percent said they talk to their friends face
face on a daily
basis. The findings came just a few months after the Kaiser Family Foundation reported
that Americans between the ages of 8 and 1
8 spend on average 7 1/2 hours a day
using some sort of electronic device, from smart phones to MP3 players to computers

a number that startled many adults, even those who keep their BlackBerrys within
arm’s reach during most waking hours.


(10) To date,
much of the concern over all this use of technology has been focused
on the implications for kids’ intellectual development. Worry about the social
repercussions has centered on the darker side of online interactions, like cyber
or texting sexuall
y explicit messages. But


and other experts are starting to
take a look at a less
sensational but potentially more profound phenomenon: whether
technology may be changing the very nature of kids’ friendships.

(11) “In general, the worries over

bullying and sexting have overshadowed a
look into the really nuanced things about the way technology is affecting the closeness
properties of friendship,” said Jeffrey G. Parker, an associate professor of



University of Alabama, wh
o has been studying children’s friendships since the
1980s. “We’re only beginning to look at those subtle changes.” The question on
researchers’ minds is whether all that texting, instant messaging and online social
networking allows children to become mor
e connected and supportive of their friends

or whether the quality of their interactions is being diminished without the intimacy and
emotional give and take of regular, extended face
face time.

(12) It is far too soon to know the answer. Writing in T
he Future of Children, a journal
produced through a collaboration between the

Brookings Institution

and the


Center at

Princeton University, Kaveri Subrahmanyam and Patricia M.
Greenfield, psychologists at

California State University, Los Ang


respectively, noted: “Initial qualitative evidence is that the ease of
electronic communication may be making teens less interested in face
communication with their friends. More research is needed to see how widespread this
omenon is and what it does to the emotional quality of a relationship.”

(13) But the question is important, people who study relationships believe, because
close childhood friendships help kids build trust in people outside their families and
help lay the groundwork for healthy adult relationships. “These good,
close relationships

we can’t allow them to wilt away. They are essential to allowing
kids to develop poise and allowing kids to play with their emotions, express emotions,
all the func
tions of support that go with adult relationships,” Professor Parker said.

(14) “These are things that we talk about all the time,” said Lori Evans, a
psychologist at the

New York University

Child Study Center. “We don’t yet have a huge
body of research to

confirm what we clinically think is going on.”

(15) What she and many others who work with children see are exchanges that are
more superficial and more public than in the past. “When we were younger we would be
on the phone for hours at a time with one p
erson,” said Ms. Evans. Today instant
messages are often group chats. And, she said, “Facebook is not a conversation.”


(16) One of the concerns is that, unlike their parents

many of whom recall having
intense childhood relationships with a bosom buddy
with whom they would spend all
their time and tell all their secrets

today’s youths may be missing out on experiences
that help them develop empathy, understand emotional nuances and read social cues
like facial expressions and body language. With childr
en’s technical obsessions starting
at ever
younger ages

even kindergartners will play side by side on laptops during
play dates

their brains may eventually be rewired and those skills will fade further,
some researchers believe.

(17) Gary Small, a neur
oscientist and professor of


at U.C.L.A. and an
author of "iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind," believes
that so
called “digital natives,” a term for the generation that has grown up using
computers, are already hav
ing a harder time reading social cues. “Even though young
digital natives are very good with the tech skills, they are weak with the face
human contact skills,” he said.

(18) Others who study friendships argue that technology is bringing children c
than ever. Elizabeth Hartley
Brewer, author of a book published last year called “Making
Friends: A Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Child’s Friendships,” believes
that technology allows them to be connected to their friends around the clock
. “I think
it’s possible to say that the electronic media is helping kids to be in touch much more
and for longer.”

(19) And some parents agree. Beth Cafferty, a high school Spanish teacher in
Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., estimates that her 15
old daughte
r sends hundreds of
texts each day. “I actually think they’re closer because they’re more in contact with each

anything that comes to my mind, I’m going to text you right away,” she said.

(20) But Laura Shumaker, a mother of three sons in the Bay A
rea suburbs, noticed
recently that her 17
old son, John, “was keeping up with friends so much on
Facebook that he has become more withdrawn and skittish about face

(21) Recently when he mentioned that it was a friend’s birthday,

she recalled, “I said
‘Great, are you going to give him a call and wish him Happy Birthday?’ He said, ‘No, I’m
going to put it on his wall’

the bulletin board on Facebook where friends can post
messages that others can see. Ms. Shumaker said she has s
ince begun encouraging
her son to get involved in more group activities after school and was pleased that he
joined a singing group recently.

(22) To some children, technology is merely a facilitator for an active social life. On a
recent Friday, Hannah Kl
iot, a 15
old ninth grader in Manhattan, who had at last
count 1,150 Facebook friends, sent a bunch of texts after school to make plans to meet

some friends later at a party. The next day she played in two softball games, texting
between innings and g
ames about plans to go to a concert the next weekend.

(23) Hannah says she relies on texting to make plans and to pass along things that
she thinks are funny or interesting. But she also uses it to check up on friends who may
be upset about something


in those cases she will follow up with a real
conversation. “I definitely have conversations but I think the new form of actually talking
to someone is video chat because you’re actually seeing them,” she said. “I’ve definitely
done phone calls at one tim
e or another but it is considered, maybe, old school.”

(24) Hannah’s mother, Joana Vicente, who has been known to text her children from
her bed after 11 p.m. telling them to get offline, is sometimes amazed by the way
Hannah and her 14
old brother, A
nton, communicate. “Sometime they’ll have five
conversations going at once” through instant messaging, texts or video chats, she said.
“My daughter, with the speed of lightning, just goes from one to the other. I think ‘My
God, that is a conversation?’

25) Some researchers believe that the impersonal nature of texting and online
communication may make it easier for shy kids to connect with others. Robert Wilson is
the father of Andy Wilson, the 11
old sixth grader from Atlanta who was good

teased over Facebook. (Mr. Wilson quoted from the exchange to illustrate the
general “goofy” and innocuous nature of most of his son’s Facebook interactions.) Andy
is very athletic and social, but his brother, Evan, who is 14, is more shy and introverted.

After watching Andy connect with so many different people on Facebook, Mr. Wilson
suggested that Evan sign up and give it a try. The other day he was pleased to find
Evan chatting through Facebook with a girl from his former school.

(26) “I’m thinking Fac
ebook has for the most part been beneficial to my sons,” Mr.
Wilson said. “For Evan, the No. 1 reason is it’s helping him come out of his shell and
develop social skills that he wasn’t learning because he’s so shy. I couldn’t just push
him out of the house

and say ‘Find someone.’”