Video games get a bad rap – Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and other violent games take the headlines, linking video game violence to real-life aggression. Are all games or gaming bad? The answer is no, according to our resident expert, Mr. Justin Igo, current teacher of grades 7 and 8 English. Justin knows what he is talking about. Four years running both a youth video game club and a youth tabletop gaming club, three years co-organizing a city-wide gaming convention and a youth Dungeons & Dragons/roleplaying club and a lifelong gamer, Mr. Igo sees the benefits to gaming.
“Gaming is an interactive medium … and benefits the brain more than watching TV, for instance, which is solely a passive activity,” Igo stated at our Tech Talk for Parents on Friday, April 29th. Igo made many interesting points, such as, it’s okay to have different standards for your child when it comes to gaming versus TV. “You may be comfortable allowing your 14 year old child watching a 13+ movie, but not comfortable participating in a game that is 13+. Watching a movie where someone gets shot is different than having your child being the shooter.”
Mr. Igo suggests investigating each and every game your child wants to play. It’s relatively easy to learn about the game your child wants to play using these Game Rating Systems:
ESRB and PEGI also have apps – so you can pop them on your phone and check out ratings whenever you want. Want to see what the game is actually like when playing? Go to YouTube and type in, “Let’s Play”, followed by the game title. You can be assured that there will be a YouTube video of someone playing the game your child wants to play. “Watch it together and discuss whether or not your child will enjoy it and if you are okay with the content,” Igo suggests. Mr. Igo gives you advice to help your child avoid undesirable games and gaming addiction:
Engage: Your young gamer has a hobby he or she is deeply invested in. Talk to them about it. Social isolation is one of the leading causes of addiction.
Encourage Balance: Gaming itself is not addictive. But your child might need some encouragement to try other things. Set daily or weekly time limits to encourage your child to engage in a variety of activities.
Monitor: Know what your child is playing, for how long and who they are interacting with.Celebrate: It might sound strange but your child is more likely to shut down if your only interaction with his/her hobby is negative. Be willing to celebrate his or her accomplishments
How do you know if your child, (and let’s face it, this tends to be a boy-dominate world) is addicted to gaming? “Time is not an indicator, actually. Your child may only play 40 minutes a day but be addicted, while another child plays for 4 hours on a Saturday and doesn’t show signs of addiction.” What are those signs? The A.P.A. (American Psychologists’ Association) proposes these standards for diagnosing internet gaming addiction. A person needs to be consistently showing at least five of these over the course of a year for accurate diagnosis:
- Preoccupation or obsession with Internet games.
- Withdrawal symptoms when not playing Internet games.
- A buildup of tolerance–more time needs to be spent playing the games.
- The person has tried to stop or curb playing Internet games, but has failed to do so.
- The person has had a loss of interest in other life activities, such as hobbies.
- A person has had continued overuse of Internet games even with the knowledge of how much they impact a person’s life.
- The person lied to others about his or her Internet game usage.
- The person uses Internet games to relieve anxiety or guilt–it’s a way to escape.
- The person has lost or put at risk an opportunity or relationship because of Internet games.
So, what’s the answer to gaming? Communicate with your child about the games he/she wants to play. Watch them play; participate yourself. Use gaming as an opportunity to connect with your child.
I personally see gaming a huge benefit in the classroom. Some students, boys especially, love competition. I often allow for competing in my class. All I have to do is put a timer on the screen and I have some kids who are immediately engaged. I offer a chocolate for the ‘winner’ and the anticipation ramps up over a bite-sized treat that they could easily buy themselves. The 2014 Horizon Report noted that Gaming and Gamification for Learning was a coming trend in the classroom. Many students don’t need to compete with others to get the competitive rush – they readily compete with themselves. This leads into another educational trend – the personalization of learning. What excites one learner is boring to the next. Allowing for students to personalize and gamify if that motivates them, is empowering to the student and allows for greater growth.
Last but not least, I would like to recommend a book by Dr. Leonard Sax, a brilliant family physician and psychologist, called Boys Adrift. In this book (which we have in our library), Dr. Sax addresses video gaming, and gaming addiction among other issues boys face in today’s world. He gives recommendations regarding video game content, amount of time and addresses what to do about activities displaced from gaming.
I hope this article has answered some of the questions you may have regarding games and gaming addiction. Please remember that you can come and speak to myself, Ms. Dani and Ms. Malu at anytime. Mr. Igo has generously provided links to his wonderful slideshow regarding gaming in both English and Portuguese and has also made himself available for any questions you may have.
P.S. Hot off the presses – A Guide to Technology Addiction, from Common Sense Media.
Parenting in the Digital Age has its ups and downs. The bright side? Our children are able to write stories with other children around the world; they watch eaglets being born on live webcams; almost all of their schoolwork is paperless, saving thousands upon thousands of trees. The down side? Too much technology has been shown to be detrimental to our health: Lack of sleep, FOMO (fear of missing out), gaming addiction, cyber bullying, and the list goes on.
Last Friday morning, April 1st, I met with parents to discuss Technology issues at ISC, along with our counselors, Ms. Malu and Ms. Dani. Our discussion ranged from what technology does my child need at ISC, to how much is too much? I will summarize our discussion below in the form of questions and answers.
QUESTION: What technology does my child need at ISC?
Grades 6 to 12: Your child must bring a laptop starting this August, 2016. Details about our program can be found here:
The technical requirements can be found here:
Grades 4 and 5: No technology is required on your part as a parent. Technology is at the discretion of the teacher. Sometimes, your child’s teacher will allow technology from home into the classroom. For the next school year, ISC has purchased laptops for grade 5 classroom use.
Grades 1-3: No technology is required on your part as a parent. Teachers may take their students to the library computer lab, or sign out the iPads for special projects, etc.
Grades in ECC: No technology is required on your part as a parent. Teachers have desktop computers in their rooms and use them for learning centers.
QUESTION: How can I protect my child from inappropriate Internet content?
YOU MUST PROTECT YOUR CHILD. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS A PARENT. Would you drop your child off in the middle of the city by themselves and say, good luck!!??? NO! SO DON’T LET THEM SURF WITHOUT SUPERVISION. And don’t put your hands up and say, “This is what kids do nowadays”. That is negligence. Please help your child to be the best digital citizen he/she can be.
There are many different software solutions out there. Below are the links to the Internet Safety Slideshow I have provided to help you navigate the Net:
My child comes home and says they have no homework OR spends 5 hours on the computer, saying he/she has tons of homework that has to be done online. How do I know my child has homework?
Grades 4-10: If your child has homework, it is listed on Edmodo. All teachers in these grades use this platform. There is a parent portal you could use, BUT I personally find it horrible. Ask your student for their username and password and login that way. It’s much better. You are not invading their privacy! It’s just for updates from their teachers and homework, tests and assignments. It has a great calendar, where you can see what is due and when.
Grades 1-3: Each teacher communicates differently, so just ask your teacher if you are unsure.
Grades ECC: Frankly, in this Tech Girl’s opinion, no tech is the best tech. They will not be behind. Spending time with Mom and Dad, siblings and friends is the best homework in my opinion.
I take 5 minutes when my girls get home and ask them to show me their homework. My Grade 3 child shows me a paper agenda; my Grade 5 child shows me her Edmodo. We make a plan for the night and go from there.
How much tech is too much?
This is not an easy answer. Every family is different, but I can tell you what the expert say is right:
- No screens (at all – TV included) 90 minutes before bed. That goes for everyone.
- 6 hours of gaming OR LESS a week. This is for your child who loves gaming on X-Box, etc.
- No screens in the bedroom – it is a place of rest.
I hope this information helps you. Please remember, you are not alone! Ms. Malu, Ms. Dani and I will continue the discussion on Friday, April 29th, 8 – 9, in the library computer lab. Hope to see you there!