About the speaker: Tom grew up in Ireland and read economics and philosophy at Trinity College Dublin. Following university he has worked as an economist for the National Farmers' Union (NFU) in London. He founded British Home Tutors (BHT) in 1996.
Further information about this Talk
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Key Points Covered in This Talk:
- What are the dangers associated with children spending too much time playing video games?
- Initially there is a basic concern that children spend a lot of time playing video games. Students can be exhausted as a result of time spent playing computer games and this can impact the classroom.
- Beyond this there may be an impact on the way children learn generally. They are looking for an immediacy of response that they have had cultivated through playing video games repeatedly. There is research from neuroscientist Susan Greenfield that shows computer games do effect attention spans. There is a concern that pupils who have been brought up on a diet of the immediacy and the very strong visual sensory stimuli of computer games will have shorter attention spans than those who have not played such games. These games allow children to change the screen whenever the game bores them and therefore undermine concentration.
- There may also be a more widespread concern about how children are being brought up to get knowledge and do research. This is potentially being undermined by new technology of which computer games have an important role to play.
- What can be done about the impact of video games?
- The video game industry is worth $60 billion per year and growing. More will be spent on video games in 2011 than will be spent on books. It already exceeds the movie industry. The computer game industry may have to make adjustments in the way that other industries have had to make adjustments as the over consumption of video games goes beyond what would be socially desirable.
- In other countries initiatives have been taken. In China legislation has been brought in that people who play computer games for more than three hours in internet cafes get cut off if the registered user is under 18. However, draconian regulation may not be the best way forward.
- Heightened awareness and information about how too much time on video games may not be in a child's interest would be a useful step. Beyond that there is scope to have a better debate with the industry.
- School policy needs to be changed. While an outright ban would not be implementable, parents need to be more aware of the potential dangers and should ensure that computer games are played in places where it is visible and can be monitored.