I love Ted Talks. They are one of the chief ways I fall down rabbit holes. After watching this one, I found myself to be incredibly conflicted. There were things I loved and things I hated.
1. The Chocolate-Covered Broccoli Analogy (WIN): This was an analogy she made near the end of the talk. She likened this to educational video games, which is spot-on. Kids can see through the chocolate to the broccoli faster than we think, and they aren’t at all fooled.
2. Why First-Person Shooters? (BOO-HISS): I didn’t see anything in Ms. Bavelier’s talk that led me to believe that in order for there to be benefits, the game needs to be a FPS. On the contrary, it seemed as though any game would do. At the beginning of the talk, she gives a jarring statistic about the amount of play Call of Duty: Black Ops saw in the first month. I think she used this as the justification for her focus on this genre. I don’t feel comfortable with anything that justifies overly-violent play, I guess. There are stats out there MORE jarring about World of Warcraft (I know it sounds more violent than Call of Duty, but trust me- it isn’t). Then she could have made her message RPGs are good for you, rather than FPSs are good for you.
3. The Video Games/Wine Analogy (WIN): I think that our society has become so reactionary that things are either awesome or the devil. We can’t just eat carbs in moderation, we need to CUT THEM FROM OUR DIETS COMPLETELY. When Daphne talked about video games in moderation, I cheered (in my head). Wine is good for you – in moderation. Same as video games. Becoming an alcoholic will not make you live longer, but a glass of wine with dinner might. Becoming a video game junkie won’t help your brain, but five or ten hours of video games each week might.
4. Simplistic Tests that Don’t Relate (BOO-HISS): As a mother of a child with ADHD, I can tell you that there are two states I can expect from my son without fail: Hyper-attentive state and Relative Inattentive State. He is either pretty inattentive or he is overly focused to the point of worry. Like, in a trance-focused. Like, try to get between him and whatever he is focused on and suffer the consequences-focused. That is typical of kids with ADHD, and most people don’t realize it. The claim that video games increase attention, accompanied by a color recognition test doesn’t really impress me. Also, pre- and post- tests (before playing video games and after playing video games) that don’t control whether the subject did anything else to increase performance don’t impress me either. If I went into a “brain” test where I knew I would be tested again in a couple of weeks, I would do some reading on brain tests in the meantime. And then if I were going to be tested again in a few months, I’d brush up before that last test. If the researcher asked me if I did anything of the sort, I’d lie. I don’t want to look dumb, after all!
5. No Look at Morality (Meh): I know that this was a brain scientist, but she seemed so calculated in her assessments. She chuckled about the fact that parents would be happier to find their kids playing Sudoku than Call of Duty. I think that she is so out of touch that she thinks parents would be happier because it is a more academic past time. Um, no. Parents would be happier because Sudoku isn’t EVIL. Sorry. Parents (and teachers) are focused on the WHOLE PERSON, not just the brain. Which makes a lot of your research irrelevant to us (because of #2).
6. Multitasking Myth Debunked (WIN): Yay! Finally (again)! When I see students around my building wearing headphones while doing school work, I want to cry. There is NO WAY they can give 100% effort to the task they should be doing. I have done a lot of research on cognitive load, and their working memory just can’t handle all of that input at once. I know I can’t, and I am an excellent student.
I would love to hear what you think.
Have a great day!