We’ve got to be careful

“We’ve got to be careful how we use the word “addiction” because it really is a term that’s used to police our culture. So a kid who stays up late reading a book is rewarded and recognized as having had dedication. A kid who stays up late trying to beat a video game is called “addicted.” A kid who spends months getting ready for a school play or a football game is seen as having shown real dedication and accomplishment. A kid who spends that same time working with his guild in “World of Warcraft” is thought to have a problem. So, I think there’s a double standard here, and we’re using this term “addiction” to refer to things we don’t value, but that may in fact be deeply valuable for students and young people in their lives.”

This is a quote from the PBS program entitled “Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century”. The program introduced viewers to five examples of how technology is being used in classrooms across the country. One example is an “augmented reality game”, which I will reflect upon in more detail in another post, but I just had to share this quote. It really resonated with me for two reasons.

First and foremost, I have a significant other who spends a lot of his free time playing online computer games with friends and family. Before I met him, I knew very little about “gaming”, especially computer gaming, and I was of the opinion that they were pretty much a waste of time. After several years of watching him play, listening to him explain certain aspects of the games, even attempting to play a game or two myself (we won’t be going into detail on that one), my opinion has changed dramatically. These games are not simply point-and-click; they require the acquisition of keyboard skills, time management, and problem solving.

Secondly, I was one of those kids in high school who spent months getting ready for a school play and, like I said, I felt rather disdainful towards gaming in general. I see now how unfair of me it was to pass judgment on those who chose a different way to spend their free time. Many of these games are team-based, and each member of the team contributes something to the task at hand- much like I and my friends did when we were involved in a play.

If we are going to get students excited about using games or apps or any other kind of technology in the classroom, then we must first show respect for the ways they use technology in their own homes.