While debate continues over the impact of videogames on children, a small study in the U.S. is examining whether videogames are actually making kids smarter.
The library system in Pima County, Arizona, is one of a dozen across the country taking part in a study to determine whether videogames can improve literacy in children. On Wednesday afternoons, kids go to the Quincie Douglas Branch Library in Tucson to spend some time with games like Guitar Hero, and librarian Jennifer Nichols claims the games program has been very successful in bringing kids to the library and introducing them to its services. “It’s been a really effective way to get them here in the library and engaged,” she said.
11-year-old Austin Alibi-Isama appeared to back up that belief. “Usually I don’t really like to come to the library because it’s kind of boring,” he said. “But since they have videogames and stuff, I like coming to the library a lot.”
A KVOA report says that if nationwide research confirms the effectiveness of videogame programs in libraries, the American Library Association would like to roll out a “videogame curriculum” for all libraries in the country, a move which would no doubt please Luis Aguilar, another 11-year-old who helped organize a videogame club in the library. Videogames are making him smarter, he said, “Because it helps you with memory, memorizing stuff and hand-eye coordination.”
One thing I’ve personally learned from my brief exposure to this research is that kids, like war, apparently never change. I used that same “hand-eye coordination” line on my parents when I wanted my first computer all those many years ago, but the truth is I would’ve sworn on a stack of bibles that the thing could cure cancer if I thought it would improve my chances of getting it. Are kids getting smarter, or are they already smart enough to know how to get what they want? (Sorry, mom and dad.)