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On the question of whether or not computer games teach kids useful, real-world computer skills, Chin says the answer is less clear. “Certainly, gaming helps make kids more comfortable with using computers and may familiarize them with the user interface and perhaps more abstract skills, too, like learning to navigate new information spaces that don't map precisely to real-world environments. (来源:最老牌的英语学习网站 http://www.EnglishCN.com)

“So, I guess I think that yes, games have the potential to teach kids. Whether any given game does, however, is another question. If nothing else, they probably develop good eye-hand coordination and motor skills. You have to react quickly to keep that zombie from slicing your head off.”

Making the leap from games to real skills

So how can parents encourage their kids to go beyond games and actually learn to do something useful on the computer? You could go out and buy the kids programming software and hide the games. Or you could make sure that your kids’ schools are integrating computers and various software programs into the curriculum.

The computer hardware itself should be in the classroom, not in a lab, so that computer use is integrated into the curriculum, says Becky Firth, a teacher with 25 years of classroom experience and a master’s degree in educational technology who now trains other teachers.

Firth’s advice to parents: “Make sure the schools are integrating computers into the curriculum. The computer is a tool; it’s not a toy, it’s not a game.

“I hate to hear kids ask, ‘Can I play on the computer,’” she continues. “That’s not really what it’s for. It’s a tool.”

When computers are integrated into the curriculum, Firth says, anecdotal evidence shows that children are more engaged in what they are doing and their interest level is higher. And because children have to share computers, these projects promote group interaction.

“They can do more project-based learning,” Firth says, “not just reading a book and answering a bunch of questions.... It’s a new focus in education, and teachers are having to change the way they teach.”

Parents should support the schools’ efforts to improve their use of computers, Firth says. But she cautions that parents should not expect a computer to substitute for them at home.

“If they’re just putting the kids on the computer for hours and hours,” she says, “then it’s the Failure to Connect. Think of what they could be learning if they were spending that time with the parent instead.”

Is it okay to let your kid play computer games? The answer is yes, and no.
By Jeanne Sather

 
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