Tech blogger Bob Sprankle last week published a thoughtful article about video game addiction that I would love to share out here with parents and educators who may have missed it. Entitled "Game Time," the TechLearning.com article gets right to the point of the controversial topic, internet addiction and video game obsessions. The topic was raised in a recent research report described in this Washington Post article by Donna St. George, in which researcher Douglas Gentile from the University of Iowa concludes that "8.5% of American youths ages 8-18 show multiple signs of behavioral addiction."
It's funny how the Web is woven: Sprankle's article was an entree for me to the Post story and, through it, to the Gentile report. I likely wouldn't have seen the report at all had I not been surfing TechLearning.com for some grant information related to teaching with technology.
At any rate, Sprankle's contributions to the discussion are worth noting--citing Marc Prensky, he suggests that parent and teacher involvement, through honest and interested (not condemning) dialog, might be the strongest contributor to child health and safety. Here's his conclusion (but go read the whole blogpost!!!):
Can gaming be addictive? Can it be a negative experience? I’m sure. But Prensky’s advice of being a part of the conversation has the power to make a world of difference in your students’ use of games. Don't start the conversations with students with the worry or "diagnosis" of addiction. Start with authentic interest in what they're doing with their games. Ask them to show them to you. Ask them the rules. Ask them why they play them. Build that bridge first, and they'll be listening by the time you get to helping them find balance.