'Internet' president, who used social media in US election, admits he can't operate an iPad, iPod or Xbox Obama, who is seen as the first president to use the internet to campaign, warned university students against being distracted by Xboxes, iPods and other technology...
US president Barack Obama, whose 2008 election victory has been acclaimed as the first to be "won on the internet", has warned university graduates against relying on technology for information.
In a commencement speech to more than 1,000 graduates, and thousands of their family and friends gathered at Hampton University, Obama said the era of the iPod and the Xbox has not always been good for the cause of a strong education.
The president's election campaign has been seen as the first to rely heavily on social media. His team used Facebook – Obama had over 8m fans at the time of writing – YouTube, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, Digg, BlackPlanet, LinkedIn, AsianAve, MiGente, Glee, and other web sites to get information to voters.
The campaign also saw an iPhone "Obama app", which allowed supporters to spread the message to their contacts.
Yesterday however, the president admitted he could not operate an iPod or iPad, as he warned the students against becoming distracted by technology when they are already graduating "at a time of great difficulty for America, and for the world".
"With iPods and iPads; Xboxes and PlayStations – none of which I know how to work – information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," Obama said.
"All of this is not only putting new pressures on you. It is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy."
Graduates face a tough economy for jobs, two wars and a 24/7 media environment not always dedicated to the truth, the president added, as he stressed the importance of a good education to adapt to what he called "a period of breathtaking change, like few others in our history".
However Obama said education can fortify students to "meet the tests of your own time".
Addressing graduates at the historically black university in south-eastern Virginia, Obama said black students face more difficult headwinds than others and are typically outperformed by their white classmates.
He urged the Hampton graduates to be role models and mentors to younger people to teach them the importance of education and personal responsibility.
Obama also said an education can help people sift through the many voices "clamouring for attention on blogs, on cable, on talk radio" and help them find the truth.
"Let's face it, even some of the craziest claims can quickly gain traction. I've had some experience with that myself," Obama said.