Each team member at ATOMS has memories of playing video games during our youth and the generations following us are sure to have even more vivid memories as video games become a larger influence and cultural norm.
For some of us, it’s standing at an arcade with our buddies, playing Pac Man, while others fondly look back at Nintendo, trying desperately to get to the next level of Mario Brothers. (or in Ryan’s case, working hard at mastering the Konami Code.)
These days, there is a lot of talk about “screen time” and the potential of damaging effects of video games on younger generations. But is it all gloom and doom? We don’t think so.
Some big names are in on the conversation. In a recent interview for NPR’s Tell Me More, Senior Policy Analyst for the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, Constance Steinkuehler, gave us some solid reasons why video games promote informal learning and are creating positive experiences for both children and adults.
She discusses programs geared towards fitness, which encourage people to get out of the chair and get movin’. (Think of kids with their grandparents, shaking their booties to the Wii Fit!) She also brings up the notion that online communities are a great way to develop our knowledge of social circles. Some online games even have a larger social awareness and offer a way to donate to worthy causes after gameplay. (Check out United Nations’ Food Force.) Who wouldn’t want to move, groove, and help a worthy cause?
Games such as World of Warcraft, despite it’s monster-y type feel to those uniformed about the world of video games, actually teaches skills about delegating responsibility, promoting teamwork, and working towards a communal goal. This game is popular amongst children as young as 10 or 11, an age perfect for learning to think outside of one’s personal bubble.
Scott Steinberg, author of Modern Parents’ Guide to Kids and Video Games, recommends that the best way to have your kids capitalize on their screen time is to continue to improve. In order to improve, you have to learn. In conjunction with this, children need adult guidance. With the right games and invested parents and teachers, video games can result in an opportunity for growth.
So, are there downsides to having too much screen time? Sure. But the upsides are there as well.
As our team continues to develop toys designed to help kids become learners, it’s good to consider other avenues for educating our children.
Chime in with your thoughts below!