Obama: Technology becomes 'diversion' rather than 'a tool of empowerment'

President Barack Obama cited the influx of new technology as "putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy" in a commencement address to graduates at Virginia's Hampton University on Sunday.

"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," Obama said. "With iPods and iPads; Xboxes and PlayStations; information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment. 

"All of this is not only putting new pressures on you; it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy."

Obama said that education would "fortify" the graduates to meet the challenges posed by these changes.

The president said education not only leaves the students prepared to compete in a global economy, but "it can also prepare you as citizens."

"With so many voices clamoring for attention on blogs, on cable, on talk radio, it can be difficult, at times, to sift through it all; to know what to believe; to figure out who’s telling the truth and who’s not," Obama said. "Let’s face it, even some of the craziest claims can quickly gain traction. I’ve had some experience with that myself. Fortunately, you’ll be well positioned to navigate this terrain.

"Your education has honed your research abilities, sharpened your analytical powers, and given you a context for understanding the world," the president added. "Those skills will come in handy."