The Home of the Ghosties!

The Home of the Ghosties!

Follow by Email

Thursday, 9 June 2011

What happens when computer nerds procreate?

Well don't let's mince words... my husband and I are... nerds!

We both work in computers and love all things electronic.   Assembler programming under a towel on the beach is our idea of a vacation.  As they say, however, what goes around comes around -- around came the Blue Kid.

At the parent/teacher interview in prep, we were advised that the Blue Kid's fine motor skills were a little behind as his dexterity with a pencil was somewhat lacking.  DINGDONG went the bell in my head... that could be because he doesn't use a pencil.  He's had a laptop since he was three and his dexterity with a touchpad is superior!  But okay, I'm a bad mum, I didn't let him paint with paint, but with (ms)Paint!  We didn't make the same mistake with Pink Kid, but that didn't really help the pencil-challenged Blue Kid.

And so the years went on and sometimes Blue Kid lifts his nose out of the Nintendo DS/laptop/playstation.  This worried me greatly.  You hear anecdotes of children with affected attention spans, sleep disorders (due to playing with a backlit screen too close to bedtime), and all sorts of other evils which emanate from overuse of all things electronic.

Children should read real books on real paper and play with real pens, and such activity is rarely rationed.  Electronic gadgets, however, particularly those which partake of the INTERNET should be locked away and produced as a supervised and brief reward for persistent application in more traditional and acceptable children's passtimes.  This seems to be the general view held by parents and "those who know" about kids.

Hence we have that one hour on, one hour off rule (which others think is still too much and Blue Kid sees as cruel and unusual punishment).    So like an outraged dowager, I march into his room and snatch the evil gadget away at the 61 minute mark!

"NO!!  I have to SAVE it!!!"  he cries.
"No, I will save it," I say, because Blue Kid can be devious and knows I get distracted easily.  I start to press buttons on his DS ... (how hard can it be???  I've supported Enterprise Servers!!), "So how do I save it?"
"Just keep pressing 'A'" he replies, sighing heavily at parental stupidity.

And so I do.  And I get a story.   It's an illustrated story with fantastic computer graphics (some of our best artists these days are in game development).  It's an adventure story line which involves the reader in the plot.  There are many possible paths to take to the "finish" of the game.  There is scene setting, instructional text and interactive challenges.  The language is kept at about a 10 year old's ability to read and there's lots of text.

I start to suspect that there may be very little difference between these kind of games and that much vaunted idea for the super new, bleeding edge fantasy that publishers are starting to talk about, THE INTERACTIVE BOOK ... and I wonder...  are they a bit behind?  We call these things games, but the text content is significant.  The child interacts with the story (and there is a definite plot), and there is animation and audio.  So where is the taxonomy going to draw its battle lines??

The Blue Kid is not a voracious reader (as historically defined).  Paper books are okay, but not adored and are only taken from the shelf under duress.  But for an 8yo, his vocabulary is extensive and when he reads aloud, even well above his level, his recognition of words and comprehension are astounding.  He uses electronic initiative to find answers to questions we can't always answer, and, I have to admit, ways to cheat in the electronic games/interactive books.

Yes, too much of a good thing is still too much of a good thing, but perhaps some things are not as evil as they're marketed...

No comments:

Post a Comment