Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In Defense of Internet-Based Children's Programming

Last week I held a program on a no-school day. It was two hours long, and was especially for kids over 8 years old.

And we went on....

Yep, I wanted to have fun with the kids at the library for a bit, and we spent time on computers. Everyone is obsessed with Garfield here (I know, I'm completely baffled too), and I wanted them to play some games on Professor Garfield and Garfield.com

"Sure Prof, bet you can teach us all about the Internet at the Nut Hut. Throw up in my car and I'll kill ya"

 At any rate, the program went on for 2 hrs and was a constant revolving door of kids (41 in total). And yes, it was low-key. And yes, it was self-paced. And yes, they could probably use those websites at home.

And guess what? They probably will, now, instead of other stuff not as fun or age-appropriate. You're welcome, parents.

Kids actually develop a lot of skills while playing skill based games on the Internet (which these were; there's a big difference between games that require skill and stuff like Farmville, but since more people are accustomed to the latter than the former they might figure they're all the same).

There are actually, in fact, educational games. But here's a few ways that kids benefit from all skill-based games:

1. Problem Solving: How are you going to defeat that monster? Does your garden have enough water to live until tomorrow? Do you have enough money to buy the weapon that you need? If not, how will you get the money? Is there any other way to do what you need to do?
2. Math:Angry Birds. 'Nuff said.
3. Social Skills: I gave the kids the option to either play alone or team up on individual computers. Most chose to play with others, even if they didn't know their computer-mate.
4. Self-efficacy: Kids know [/assume] that they can't ask an adult for help defeating a video game.They either figure it out themselves, or go on the Internet and watch a video of someone beating a certain level or gaining an achievement, and then attempt to repeat it step for step.Video games are pretty much the only thing that kids understand that they're on their own about (which may be why they don't mind working together). And when they do achieve something, it's their achievement!
5. It's fun: They like it, even if we don't always understand it. Your kids probably don't understand the importance of your scrap-booking or watching The Bachelor.
...In fact, neither do I.

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