Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Everything Bad is Good For You

My son got Zelda The Minish Cap for his gameboy for his birthday, and I've been playing with him. We each have our own "file" and while he's really good at the game, I'm still better ;) Anyhow one of the thoughts that I've had watching him play is that how incredibly spatial the game is, and how quickly he grasps it. He'll say things like "remember that castle over on the right" and I'll say "huh?" and he'll say "go left, go up, go up, go right, go right, go right" and we'll be at the castle that he was talking about. So I've been wondering whether you can learn spatial relations, or perhaps more generally, can video games make you smarter. Traditionally, parents treat video games like addictions that suck your brain out, and certainly they do simulate addiction. We learned this year that you NEVER give a gameboy game for a birthday BEFORE you're done requiring your child's attention. Our son was immediately absorbed in Zelda (and Super Mario Bros. 3) and we had to pry him away when we needed him for cake (can you believe it?!?!) or pictures, or saying goodbye to guests. That said, there's an interesting new book out called Everthing Bad Is Good For You. I heard an interview with the author on NPR and he argued (somewhat convincingly) that television programs are more sophisticated today than they were in the 70's and 80's and require more refined intellectual skills to follow and enjoy. I haven't read the book, but you're welcome to buy it for me ;)

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