Thursday, February 17, 2011

How Great or Not Great are Video Games for Kids?

I'm currently attending a 21st century learning conference in Hong Kong.

Some of the ideas presented have been fabulous, even inspiring!  The idea is to tap into the culture that we are---which is a "hyper connected" one.  Rather than trying to get kids away from their video games and i-phones, presenters have suggested that educators use that passion and interest and gear it toward our learning objectives.  Many of the ideas have really made me stop and think---and feel excited about things to do in my own classroom, and maybe even in my own home.

However...I'm sitting in a session now where the presenter is talking about using video games (even "mature", violent ones) as a basis for assignments.  She's not suggesting we encourage students to play them, but rather that we allow students to use these instead of novels for certain types of literary analysis.  It's the same argument we've heard in other areas---kids are doing it anyway, so let's tap into it.

As a parent, I have not allowed my kids to play video games and I personally have a bias against them.  They seem dark to me, for the most part and I just can't get past the "fear" I have of them.  Then again, I don't like many of the movies that others rave about, so maybe my bias is not about video games, but "dark" or violent things in general.

Much of what the presenter said makes sense and I could see how it would engage some students and spark creativity.  At any rate, it's making me think---as a teacher, as a parent, and as a person.

What do you think?  What's your opinion about the value of video games?  Do you allow your kids to play them?  As a teacher, would you tap into this knowledge base?  As a parent, I'm leaning toward "no, no, yuck! no!!".  As a teacher of 13-year-olds, I wonder if there is a place for this discussion.

What do you think?

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