I changed my mind or maybe a zombie ate it

Help me out here. How does an otherwise mostly intelligent woman end up watching a YouTube video in which a North American teen voice croons a folk tune about zombies eating his brain to a video background of Minecraft graphics? And this before breakfast.

I'm not alone. It says a lot about our species that we use the internet, a veritable encyclopaedia of encyclopaedias and more, to browse cat pictures and take quizzes to see which superhero or drink we most resemble. Talk about a mindless use of time!

Well, yes. And no. I've been thinking about the mindlessness of online-ness. In fact, I've changed my mind on that.

Haven't most of us changed our minds, quite literally, reshaped them, around the new horizons of technology?

Our minds and our mannerisms. Case in point: ringing doorbells. As a child, I would reach up to buzz the button at friend's places with my index finger.

These days, children ring them with their thumbs. Kids these days! Makes me feel so old to write it. Next I'll be reminiscing about I remember when ...

My earliest technology memories come in the bulk-box form of an Amstrad. I programmed it myself with disco lights for my 13th birthday party.

It did red, blue, yellow, green on repeat and then squares shifting of the same. I imagine I felt much like my son did when he first learned to lay Minecraft tracks or bash out bits of virtual ground. Later I learned to type, but that was in my first year at university.

At school I'd been counselled not to take keyboard skills because only secretaries need to know how to type. Now I spend almost as much time in front of a screen as I do asleep on a daily basis.

How fast technology has trajectorised. And how easy it is to demonise. It's that word mindless again. Maybe, right?

I have friends who call iPads ''ape-books'' as if the technology is going to eat users' brains like little folk zombies might. I dunno, though.

After months of feigning some kind of high-handed lack of interest in playing on computers in favour of books (and, OK, occasional addiction to completely mindless reality TV) I couldn't resist the temptation to have just a little turn on the new zombie-updated Minecraft account.

In my mind, Minecraft seemed a bit like mindless Lego ... until I tried to manipulate it, all fingers and thumbs. How do they make those amazing worlds?

I plan to check it out, in secret, via all those seemingly time-wasting online tutorials. Because there's nothing wrong with a bit of relaxation. Playing.

On a gaming tangent, I found interesting online reading to allay my suspicions about Clash of the Clans, a game that is played in more than a hundred countries and always tops the lists of popular apps.

I guess my biggest gripe with Clash of the Clans is that I didn't invent it: apparently the makers get $1 million a day, yes, a day, from people paying to upgrade, upspec or speed up their play.

I have all the usual parental worries about cyber safety and the internet eating my children's brains. In all seriousness, the research shows that these games are addictive.

Of course, they take time to set up and strategise, so no wonder people want to spend hours and hours on them.

Who would complain if a child spent hours and hours perfecting their golf swing? Or baking?

We put very different value judgements on these activities. Which is worse: to sit around, as a family, glued to separate computers or all reading different novels?

Is it better to watch reality tripe than replay your giant smashing the defences of another village?

Research shows that too much online time can lead to alienation and a negative self-image in other social situations.

But I'm wondering here, idly, what the results would be if you asked the golf-perfectionist child how she felt in the playground.

Chances are that anyone with an obsessive nature is going to find an obsession and that obsessed people are less likely to be socially adept in other situations.

Am I making sense here? Or did that zombie actually creep in and eat my brain?

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