December 27, 2010

I don't think "Asteroids" had the same effects

Our Wii is on the fritz.  I think the laser is off track or something.  At first, it caused minor withdrawal symptoms in #1 Son, but he soon got over it and found other ways to occupy himself (notably his iPod Touch).

Apparently, according to science, this is also destroying his ability to drive in fog.  He's only 14 and doesn't drive yet, but don't let that fact cloud the issue at hand.

The NPR article linked above references science done by researchers that, quite frankly, could have come to me first and saved some of their grant money for a truly kick-ass publication party.  This research shows that shoot-em-up action video games, like the Call of Duty series that my boys and I enjoy, enhance certain skills such as focus, multitasking, and the ability to take in visual data and process it quickly.  The end of my blog post linked above theorizes exactly what this science shows.

Which of course highlights the subtext of this post:  I am a genius.

Predictably, however, NPR readers went ape shit at the suggestion that action video games could have any effect on society other than to create the next crop of war-mongering misogynistic philandering neanderthals--i.e. Republican Congressmen.  (But let's be honest, without war-mongering misogynistic philandering neanderthals, who would protect The People from gay marriage?)

Be that as it may, I believe this research, and I've always thought that video games are not entirely useless.  I can see these skills in my boys.  There may be other ways to enhance these skills (football, hockey, soccer, and basketball come to mind), but I think today's child needs both physical activity and video games.  Plus books, theater, and social groups.

Video games should rarely be taken as more than a special kind of toy, but people also need to realize that toys build skills, and these toys build a lot more skills than the ability to grow up into a successful and productive psychopath.


fairyhedgehog said...

I'm totally with you on this. Plus my sons enjoy the rather violent games as a safe outlet for aggression because they can tell the difference between fantasy and reality.

Hope you had a good Christmas.

jjdebenedictis said...

There has NEVER been any proper research that showed a link between violent behaviour and violent video games (or gross-lyric'ed heavy metal or rap or whatever distressing thing Parents Just Don't Understand™ happens to be entertaining the kids these days.)

These claims are always born of anxiety and a desire to make that which one does not understand go away. I agree with you that if the kid's brain is engaged, that's probably good for them.