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Monday, September 18, 2006

Think of the Children

The Daily Telegraph has embarked on a campaign to 'Save our Children's Childhood'. The newspaper claims that 'Junk Culture' (which includes gaming) is harming the development of young people. A letter to The Daily Telegraph sparked off what is now an inferno of regular coverage of the issue. The reasoning behind classification of gaming as 'junk' follows the regurgitated, simplistic and ignorant arguments of the past, whereby video games coerce kids into staring at a screen rather than socialising or exercising in the fresh air. The fiery letter furthered the fodder for my rebuttal by alleging:

"Since children's brains are still developing, they cannot adjust. . . to the effects of ever more rapid technological and cultural change,"

The letter was fronted by people whom should be role models and authority figures to children - 110 teachers, psychologists, and children's authors contributed to the wording. It would seem that the above quote would be better applied by removing the first six words and applying it to the authors of the comment.

Its true that sitting in front of a display, whether it be for gaming, viewing or typing an essay for school, can have a detrimental effect on health if taken to excess. But the point is that children are able to live their lives as they and their families choose. My friends and I were always almighty geeks at school, and yet we still found opportunity to meet up and breathe in as much fresh air as one is able to in our climate. As a child, I was eternally grateful for my computer as it liberated me from the constraints of the real world, gaming was not only a form of escapism but a chance to talk to new people online, improve my reactions and learn about democracy's value over despotism (My passion for history was kindled by early experience of Sid Meier's games).

As the common sense adviser for the authors of this campaign, I recommend that they access their tech trees and prioritise research into developmental biology and that they endevour to abolish sensationalism within their cities. Jean Piaget (linked above) presented widely accepted evidence to support a theory that children are not mini-adults, and that their potential for development and for learning new skills is far superior to that of a fully grown adult. We should not expect children to think and behave the same ways as an adult, but instead encourage them to develop in the way that best suits them.

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