Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Constantly Entertained

Cabco Group, a company based in New Zealand, has created the latest in shopping technology, a shopping cart which has built-in televisions constantly streaming popular shows such as the Wiggles, Barney and other such children's shows. Publix Super Markets down in Florida have taken in some prototypes and are testing them out now. For a rental fee of $1, parents can plop their kids inside these carts (which are shaped like little cars) and shop in the comfort. The carts (when not in use) rest on a charging pad and apparently can get up enough momentum to require the addition of brakes on them. Now is it just me or does anyone else find this new development a little bit disturbing?

Open the health section in almost any newspaper and you will undoubtedly find an article regarding the rising trend in overweight kids or kids who are so out of shape from sitting and watching television all the time. Do we really need this next trend in de-energizing our kids? I am not a parent and nor do I have extended practical experience in handling a rowdy kid in a shopping mall but I can say with relative confidence that this isn't the way we want to go. I fondly remember the days when my brother and I would accompany our mom on her weekly shopping trips. We used to love riding in the cart and asking about the various foods or just helping get the things we wanted to ask for. It is the rite of passage of any child to run up and down the aisles hoping against hope to get that one box of cereal that is the sugariest.

Already we've seen things like TVs in the back of minivans and their macho equivalent, SUVs. I mean how many times have you driven down the highway in the last few years to see virtually every television show going on in someone's car? The VCR was invented to record things and we used it to record television. The majority of society couldn't program it so they moved on. The next step was DVD; high quality picture sound and the whole works. Since we couldn't record television on VCRs (at least not all of us) the next step was to release all shows on DVD. Now virtually every show is available to you on DVD. Missed a show? No problem, hop in the car and catch up.

Now we're taking that a step farther and doing that while shopping. I'm waiting for the day (and I'm sure it's not far off) where we have toilets and shower heads with built in televisions. I mean we already have televisions built into refrigerators why not while showering? It will undoubtedly entice lots of kids to go and take a shower. Of course the water bill may spike as kids and adults duck in their to catch the latest episode of "Lost". We're slowly losing the art of conversation, but even worse, we're slowly losing our ability to read and comprehend. We are spending more and more time focusing our kids on TV and not enough on intellectual pursuits. I hope this new product isn't too successful; although I'm sure the ad wizards are already licking their lips hoping to do product placements based on what aisle the cart may be going through and triggering tantrums if the kid doesn't get that particular product.



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