As I’ve written many times, technology of itself doesn’t convince kids the have more power in the world. In fact, to them, most technologies reduce it. They don’t have as much freedom online as adults, they are on the student, not the staff network. They don’t have an atm card and parents decide when the WiFi it’s available.
Years ago I used to teach computer science. Kids would arrive excitedly in the room and fight over seats. Computers back then we’re slow, the internet was slower, but kids were enthusiastic. It was easy to get them interested and they’d spend almost every second exploring.
Today, I think much of what is forced upon kids created a low flow state. The get to take quizzes, they find out others did better. They are banned from social use and told that they are at risk … not just by predators, but inadvertently becoming one simply by using some app that an administrator fails to place correctly in cultural literacy.
Games are important because they give meaningful lyrical interludes. They are momentary spaces where fantasy and adventure thrive.
The mmo, should be thought of as mirroring meaningful objectives. Take note that I’m excluding the term “out comes” on purpose. Kids need to experience what Jay Clayton calls “the romantic circle” in order to work through their experiences in world. I think this is critical between the ages of 7 and 12. They need to know what the heroes journey feels like, because so much of their day is filled with people wanting to take it away.
If your grew up with Star Wars, Harry Potter or even old western movies then try to accept that video games to kids are the same. It’s not the content that should freak out parents, it’s the relentless push for realism (commercial and political version) over imagination and romance. Games won’t make a kid more aggressive any more than a romance film can turn them into melancholy sapp. There’s not a single scrap of evidence to suggest games have any lasting long term effect on kids.
Now before you dismiss that, ask yourself, why romantic ideas should be purged from education. How would that make school better?
I think kids play games because there’s a deliberate culture in schools to fill every available technology discussion and opportunity with low flow activities. If you like, administrators know this and activity build a hyper reality for adults, not to keep bad things away from kids, but because romantic ideas are dangerous. The wonder has been driven out of computing science because it exposes many things no one wants to talk about such as media ethics, student privacy, the right to stomp on your own shadow if you feel like it and so on.
Games, I’m my view, help kids get through those threshold moments of their own life quest in ways were just beginning to understand and in ways technology in schools had unset delivered for over a decade now.