Does you child like to play computer games? Maybe you wish he’d do something else because you think he’s wasting his time, doing nothing much at all. If you do, I have a story for you!
The other day, my girls were playing computer games at the Coolmath Games website.
“What game are you playing?” I asked.
“Run!” said Gemma-Rose. “It’s great. Run 2 is even better.”
“Can I have a go?” I asked.
A moment later, I had the computer on my knee and my fingers on the keyboard. Sophie and Gemma-Rose explained exactly what I needed to do.
I nodded. This was going to be easy. All I had to do was direct the little alien down a tunnel, avoiding all the rectangular shaped pits along the way. I only had three controls to worry about: left and right keys and the space bar which was for jumping.
The game began. My little creature approached a pit. I pressed the space bar. He flew through the air. He landed safely on the other side. He ran around the next hole and over another. Soon he was at the end of the tunnel. I’d completed level 1. I grinned. I was still grinning a few levels later.
“You’re doing very well, Mum!” congratulated Sophie.
Those words were scarcely out of her mouth before things fell apart. I pressed the space bar. My alien shot up into the air and then disappeared down the very first hole. Game over. Back to the start. My alien set off again. I pressed the space bar. He shot up into the air and disappeared down the very first hole. Game over. Back to the start.
“Jump at the corner, Mum and rotate the wall with your left key.”
“Keep your touch on the keys light.”
My daughters’ suggestions didn’t seem to make any difference. I couldn’t move my little alien safely all the way through the tunnel.
Gemma-Rose sensed I was getting frustrated so she said, “Would you like me to do this level for you?”
“No,” I said firmly. “I’m going to do this myself.” And a long time later, I did.
On to the next level. And the next. I wiped my brow. I breathed deeply. I stretched my aching fingers. I was working hard.
“I thought this would be easy,” I confessed between levels. “I just don’t have the right skills.”
“You need good concentration and memory,” said Sophie.
“I think my biggest problem is I’m lacking the necessary connections in my brain. I just can’t think quickly enough. I can’t do everything I need to do all at the same time.”
After a while, my head started hurting from all the effort. “I think I’ve had enough for one day,” I said at last.
“You did very well, Mum!” Both my daughters were grinning at me with delight. “And you’ll get better with practice.”
I learnt a lot from this experience. Children certainly aren’t doing nothing when they’re playing computer games. They’re concentrating hard. They’re building connections in their brains. They’re learning how to think and act quickly. Depending on the game, they might be doing a whole lot of other things too.
And there’s something else I found out: Children love sharing their computer games.
One more thing: Until we share our children’s experiences, how can we really know what they’re doing?
So if you’re worried your child isn’t doing much at all while he’s playing a computer game, then how about asking if you can have a go? Sit side-by-side. Enter your child’s world. See what it’s all about. You could end up having a lot of fun. (I suppose you might also get a sore head!)
“What’s Run 2 like?” I ask my daughters.
“Run 2 is like the original game except you can skate as well as run.”
I’m looking at the game description:
This game requires enormous concentration and memorization!