From Scientific American
Prensky wants to ease parents fears by describing how kids see gaming and what they learn. "[P]retty much all the information that parents and teachers have to work with is a lot of speculation, conjecture, and overblown rhetoric about the putative negative aspects of these games," he writes. Unfortunately, his counterstrategy is to throw together a similarly speculative mix in defense.
Prensky presents an opinionated argument filled with anecdotes, a few studies, and quotes pulled from published news stories. There is no evidence too specious: he cites a recent study that found younger, newer radiologists were more accurate in reading mammograms than older, more experienced doctors and asks, "Could the higher visual acuity gained from playing video games be at work here?" How can the reader know, when Prensky didnt talk to the researchers to find out if the study was trying to answer this question?
He also takes the easy road in response to studies that find a link between aggressive behavior and violent video games: "Absolutely no one can say, when all the complex factors in a single childs life are taken into account, whether any individual child will be negatively influenced overall." Of course not. The question, however, is whether video games are a risk factor for aggression and, if so, to what extent.
Nor will Prensky concede that there could be anything wrong with new technology. Writing about cell phones, he says that "the first educational use students implemented for their cell phones was retrieving information on demand during exams. Educators, of course, refer to this as cheating. They might better serve their students by redefining open-book testing as openphone testing." It is not hard to believe that children are learning problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination from video games, as Prensky and others have written. Nor are all video games about killing things. But parents who have concerns about potential negative effects will be hard-pressed to fi nd thoughtful, well-researched answers here.
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