Obama fingers lazy gamers

US President Barack Obama gave lazy computer gamers a dressing down in a speech to students at a college established by escaped slaves almost 150 years ago.

Obama told students at Hampton College, Virginia, of the hardships their forebears had endured to establish the college.

He told them they had a duty to take the baton and not rest on the laurels that had been handed down to them.

That meant overcoming the unique challenges of our information age: information overload and inexhaustible entertainment.

"With iPods and iPads; Xboxes and PlayStations; information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment," he told Hampton students on Sunday.

He also warned that ubiquitous information networks were making it easier for untruths and distortions to spread rapidly as much as they promoted the spread of knowledge.

"You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t rank all that high on the truth meter," he said.

"All of this is not only putting new pressures on you - it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy," he added.

Obama reminded the Hampton students how their college had first sat with 20 escaped slaves under a tree in 1861, at the start of the US civil war, and how they were taught in defiance of the state's then extant slavery laws.

He told them they now had a responsibility they must pass on to their own children. That was, "the work ethic that made it possible for you to be here today", and the understanding that education leads to emancipation.

The President equated that responsibility with the US' ability to compete economically in a fast-changing world. It was necessary for everyone to be given an education that would "make them competitive in our knowledge economy".

The American project wouldn't work if people were, "uninformed...apathetic...checked out, and left democracy to those who didn’t have their best interests at heart".

He urged the students to participate for the good of the country because their education would "fortify" the country against "the tests of our time", the unprecedented global competition, the desperate economic downturn and the pressures created by two wars.

You can read the Obama speech here. Or watch it here.