Is online gaming and social networking the answer to child development?
This is an interesting one given the age old â€˜divideâ€™ when it comes to children and gaming – is it good or bad?
There have been many conversations and studies around both the benefits and drawbacks, but one that is of particular interest is a recent research commissioned by the MacArthur Foundation. The three year study saw researchers interviewing and monitoring hundreds of childrenâ€™s time spent on social networking and online gaming.
A key finding of the study revealed that online gaming and social networking is beneficial to childrenâ€™s development, teaching them how to communicate in todayâ€™s world whilst strengthening technical skills.
An abstract from the report reads: Â
“For a minority of children, the casual use of social media served as a springboard to them gaining technological expertise â€” labelled in the study as ‘geeking out.’ By asking friends or getting help from people met through online groups, some children learned to adjust the software code underpinning some of the video games they played, edit videos and fix computer hardware. Given that the use of social media serves as inspiration to learning, schools should abandon their hostility and support children when they want to learn some skills more sophisticated than simply designing their Facebook page.”
Having found the initial news piece on Slashdot, it was interesting to see the reader comments and their clear divide on this finding. While some clearly favour bringing up their children in a traditional way, enrolling them in outdoor or sporting activities etc, there are a number of readers who firmly believe in the benefits that online gaming (in particular) can bring.
While both views have substance, we canâ€™t deny that todayâ€™s younger generation is far more digitally savvy and equally eager to consume digital content. Not only do they enjoy participating in online games and social networking, but itâ€™s fast becoming the way in which they learn and will expect to work when entering the job market.
But as they say, everything in moderation! Why not judge for yourself and have a read of the full whiter paper.Â