I would prefer my kids play video games instead of watch television.
This statement typically earns me suspicious looks and raised eyebrows. But after watching my sons engage with the “Star Wars Battlefront” this weekend, I am more convinced than ever that video game play is better for my kids than watching television.
Let me explain. When my boys watch TV, they are passive consumers. They lean back and let the television spoon-feed them the story. The writer and producer are in charge of the narrative, and my boys simply sit there and watch the action happen. Many times the stories are canned, the dialogue banal and the laugh track condescending.
But when they are gaming, they lean forward. They are making decisions. Prioritizing. Solving puzzles. Collaborating with their friends. Changing characters, choosing helmet colors. Designating locations, many of which they have created themselves. They move, plan and operate in a story and world of their own creation. They are active.
Are there video games I hope my sons never play even when they are adults? You bet. Would I be worried if my sons played video games for hours on end? Yes.
But I feel video games have been given a bad reputation by some academics and the general consensus that they cause violent behavior. Humans have been violent forever. How do we explain the violence of the Crusades, The Inquisition, and all the wars that existed before video games were created?
And if there is indeed a direct correlation, how does one explain the vast number of people who are gamers who have NOT engaged in real-life violent behavior?
Reflecting on the engagement of videogames and the passivity of the television watching experience made me re-evaluate my teaching style. Was I a teacher who was more like television, or was I a teacher more like a video game?
Did I stand in front of a class and lecture, with ME in charge of the story? Were my students simply passive consumers of content that I was choosing?
Or, could I be like a video game and make them more involved in the process?