Okay, I paraphrased a quote from animal house for the title of this blog. But Dean Wormer had a point. I think we need to ask, ” Are video games harmful to kids?” If our kids play them, will they become addicted, obese, violent, and grow old in seclusion? While I’m hearing less and less of it, some people are still unsure about video games. Personally, I happen to find a lot of value in gaming.
I play video games with my kids. While the American Psychological Association focuses on obsession and addiction, I’m less concerned about those things for most kids. This is fun time for us.
Griffin, my first-born, blew me away by mousing when he was 2.5 years old. This is not uncommon. Many three-year olds are using computers. Griffin and I played a game called “Pajama Sam.” This was around 2002/2003 when CD Roms were still around. We both look back at our time w/ Pajama Sam with fond recollections.
I think children who play Skatekids, for example, are at no greater risk of becoming couch potatoes than those who curl up on the couch with a good book.
In a report issued by the Federation of American Scientists (2006) the panel concluded the following:
There are several attributes of games that would be useful for application in learning. These include
• Closing the gap between what is learned in theory and its use (i.e., contextual bridging)
• high time-on-task
• motivation and goal orientation, even after failure
• providing learners with cues, hints, and partial solutions to keep them progressing through learning
• personalization of learning
• infinite patience. (p.5)
The problem seems to be “either/or” thinking. Either you are exercising or you are not. Griffin plays baseball, basketball, and football. Georgia does ballet. Carter and Brady (twins) play t-ball, jump on their trampoline, play in-door soccer. They also have non-exercise time in their lives. They color, read, and–yes, play video games. When they exercise, they develop their bodies. When they play video games, they develop their minds. We need to take care in all the activities we select for our kids. This includes video games.
In fact, some video games lead to better athletic performance, even in youngsters. While coaching baseball, I would sometimes see a youngster with a very nice looking swing. I would ask who taught them and often hear, “I learned it from Playstation.” How cool! If you are still unsure about video games, check out Wii Fit and Wii Sports. Anyone can work up a sweat playing those games.