couch potato two

I'm looking for research on attitudes to reading and our tendency to demonise new platforms and forgive old ones all their sins. I remembered this Radio 4 programme which documented the original moral panic about the brain rotting impact of novels on the minds of the young. Does anyone know of a study of contemporary attitudes along these lines?


Tuesday 9 Jan 07
Jonathan Freedland puts  the panic over video games into historical perspective by going back to the scandal surrounding the arrival of the early English novel.

Fears over the dangers of video games have been raised in Parliament and there is an ongoing debate as to whether they lead to irresponsible copycat behaviour and deprive the young of an active lifestyle. In the 1740’s similar concerns were raised when Samuel Richardson’s novel ‘Pamela’ took the public imagination by storm. For the first time readers were entering a hyper-realistic world - one where a servant girl being pursued by her master - and the line between reality and fiction became blurred; the novel’s arrival also coincided with the introduction of the sofa to the nation’s reading rooms giving birth to the first ‘couch potatoes’.

Jonathan retraces the footsteps of the ‘Pamela’ controversy via Richardson’s printers near Fleet Street; an image from the novel buried deep in the Tate stores and beside an elegant 17th century sofa in a London town house. Whilst exploring the shockwaves caused by ‘Pamela’ he also explores the controversy’s parallels with today’s debate about video games.


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