Tuesday, September 27, 2016

No Translation Required



The father of one of our students recently drew my attention to this WNYC podcast on how video games, rather than being "just an escape," can actually be good for you.

He wrote:

Interesting listen. The opposite of play is not work indeed! . . . (L)ots of research seems to be done on this topic, but not necessarily on the non-virtual version of play, as it's tough to put a kid on a swingset into an fMRI machine. Both version are part of our future of course, but take the same podcast and substitute "play" for "video game play" and I imagine similar benefits result.

I tried his mental experiment on the text synopsis of the podcast and it worked quite well (bold represents where I replaced "game" or "video game" with the word "play"):

  • "After wading through tons of research, she found that play is a wonderland of possibilities to make us smarter, happier, and more creative people."
  • "So play isn't just an escape? Nope, it doesn't have to be. Jane says that the key to finding positive emotions and empowerment is to ground your play in real life."
  • "In fact, play can help cope with depression and combat anxiety . . ."

As a type of play, of course, it makes sense. Research on any kind of play finds these benefits and more. The key difference is that we need no "dosage" warnings when it comes to the swingset. And that's where we need caution when it comes to our children and video games: you simply can't overdose on swings, like one can with video games.

Even this article in praise of video games draws a distinction between video game play and other types of play:

So when you're trapped in Minecraft, don't give up and walk away, trudge on. Fight. Or use creative problem-solving to get to the next level. Those skills or resources will spill out from the virtual world and into the real one.

The key difference being, of course, that the child on a swingset is already developing those "skills or resources" in the "real world," no translation from the "virtual world" is required.



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