Gaming and families

BECTA have just released a new report on the use of gaming in families. It’s a really interesting document – supported by an extensive literature review and a record of the parents’ and children’s views on and experiences of gaming from the survey analysis.

Earlier this week I was speaking to a group of parents, staff and community members at an evening meeting of a local school, focusing on a view of the future for our students, and how we ought to be framing the learning experiences for them now so that they are best equipped for what they are likely to confront.

A main focus with this group was the importance of recognising that the development of digital literacy cannot be left to occur in the six hours a day they spend in school – that it is a part of the shared responsibility of the whole community within which the child is raised. This soon led to thinking about cybercitizenship and online safety – to which my response is that we must ensure that we are modelling at every level, at home and at school, the sorts of behaviours, attitudes and responses that we expect our students to adopt.

One way of doing this is through the shared participation in games. It’s always been the case with board games, card games etc. – so why not online and video games? As a parent who (after considerable thought and decision making with my younger children) has recently purchased a Nintendo Wii, I can attest to the usefulness of engaging with my kids (and many of the neighbourhood kids) in playing some of the games and challenges in this environment – and along the way, can see the development of skills and understandings emerge about what is required to interact in such a way, the challenges and opportunities of using the interface etc.

In the BECTA report parents and young people reported the following benefits from playing video games together:

  • parents are provided with an opportunity to review and understand the games that their children are playing
  • parents are able to ensure that their children are playing age-appropriate games
  • parents are able to moderate games so that children learn social skills such as collaboration, turn taking and sporting behaviour
  • games provide opportunities for further communication between parents and their children
  • games provide opportunities for discussion of sensitive issues of morality, particularly in relation to warfare and fighting. believed their children would simply overcome these restrictions.

This list is merely a skim of key points – there’s lots more in the full report that can be downloaded here (PDF)

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