Imaginary forts and infinite choice

The recent USA Today article Tech creates a bubble for kids describes some of the ways that personal media is changing children and teens.

The piece goes into some length about virtual isolation and social expectations, saying that given the same social situation youth and adults (and by adult, think "grown up") will often make different decisions. A lack of social awareness by teens is attributed in part to individual and small group communications bubbles, the virtual equivalent of the imaginary forts I inhabited as a child - no grown-ups and girls allowed. Expanded exponentially by mobile computing and communications, the article suggests that perhaps this power to withdraw will affect social cohesion, which is based in part on subtle physical cues. Since I tend to be skeptical of these kinds of articles  - "kids today!" - let me just say that no grown-ups and girls is a lousy way to run a universe. Sooner or later most of us figure that out.

But it did make me think about the idea of choice. My young sons will grow using communications and information technology as second nature and will have far more technology-aided choice than I ever had. Choice is a significant issue in game playing, for example, where research shows that by honing decision making and problem solving skills, games can contribute to smarter kids or perhaps train future business leaders. Behavior economists also study personal choice in a discipline known for its focus on the idea of scarcity. We now know that these choices do not necessarily - or even, often - follow rational decisions and that thanks to an ability to make things in advanced economies, even scarcity is rarer that it used to be. One result: some conclude that choice can be paradoxical, that more choice is inhibiting.

So here's my question drawn from the article. What does it mean to have infinite choice?


Hat tip: Putting People First

Technorati: behavioral economics, choice, gaming, infinity, anthropology, value theory