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Not exactly helpful

I have found that when you have a child struggling with something….academic, health, behavior, etc….it’s tempting to turn to the internet to look for a quick fix.

In March the New York Times had a short article about dyslexia, Video Games may Aid Children with Dyslexia.

Students trained (?!?) in action video games showed that they had improved reading scores. WOW!  Time to get to Target and load up on all those Wii games I say N-O to.  That’s it?  I can just shove my boys in front of the Wii with ACTION (non-action games didn’t have as dramatic of an effect) games and they will read well? Done and done.

But wait, the last paragraph of the article is this:

“The correlation between attention improvement and reading improvement was very high,” said the co-first author of the study, Simone Gori, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Padua. “The change in attentional abilities translates into better reading ability.”

Wait, is this news?  Of course your reading will be better if your attention is better, isn’t that the trick I wrote about yesterday?

I would argue that instead of plopping your child in front of a video game and hoping that they become a better reader (they won’t), they go outside and exercise to increase attention.  Shouldn’t the goal be healthy children who are confident about their reading skills and engaged in learning….instead of children nagging about needing to play more video games and THEN they will do their homework.

The New York Times has published many articles about the benefits of exercise, even while Phy Ed. and recess time are being cut.  In the last paragraph of Can Exercise Make Kids Smarter by Gretchen Reynolds she writes:

“But for now, the takeaway is clear. “More aerobic exercise” for young people, Mr. Kuhn said. Mr. Hillman agreed. So get kids moving, he added, and preferably away from their Wiis. A still-unpublished study from his lab compared the cognitive impact in young people of 20 minutes of running on a treadmill with 20 minutes of playing sports-style video games at a similar intensity. Running improved test scores immediately afterward. Playing video games did not.”

Hiking in Glacier

Get outside and play!

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3 thoughts on “Not exactly helpful

  1. I was diagnosed with Dyslexia in 6th grade and at the same age played video games and sports. I would suggest there can be a happy medium between these competing time intensive activities.

    After failing so many classes in school, I was conditioned with the idea of what you referred to as “failure as normal.” The exam failures and very low grades in classes have always been a massive blow to my self confidence. I equated that the energy I put into preparing for class, and failing, meant that I was uniquely unsuited at the same metrics my peers were passing with ease. Thus, my worth was less than theirs. I am still struggling with the effect of low self esteem from time to time, it was pure and simple trauma.

    I think what really matters in blog post debate is the kind of content you watch and play on a computers/counsels. I followed my interests in what I played so I would suggest “good” computer games like: SimCity (the older versions), Civilization (any of the series). Both require reading and each was unique in what you learn. Finding “good” content on TV is difficult, but I would recommend enabling your TV for internet browsing (via Chromecast) so you can get a wider reach of educational material on a large screen.

    I also played team sports, participated in outdoor clubs, and would do solo activities like biking and swimming. I think the only way that I am a reasonably well adjusted dyslexic adult is because I learned about myself more though sports than through academic metrics.

    Finally, I want to say thanks for writing this blog. I am an avid marathoner as well, and want to commend you for writing about these two seemingly different, but mutually beneficial subjects. As I go to a job interview today, I will remember what you have written, think positive and know that I can handle whatever the world throws at me. Afterwards, I am going for a run! 🙂

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I agree that a happy medium can be found. This is something a struggle deeply with as a parent for many reasons. One being that “happy medium” as far as screen time goes seems to be continually shifting because of different technology and as my kids get older. I question myself continually. Your comments about how hard you were working and still failing really resonated with me and will stick with me for a long time. Thank you.

      Good luck on your interview! And have a great run after.

  2. Thank you very much for the reply. The 6 person interview saga was interesting and good practice but I have yet to hear back from them. I just wanted to share with you this blog post of MIT and Stanfords learning envirments: http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2013/08/mit-media-lab-dschool-point-the-way-toward-decentralized-learning-in-digital-age

    Dyslexic Nicholas Negroponte created the MIT Media Lab, OLPC project and here is a great article on Dyslexia at MIT: http://sciencecow.mit.edu/me/dyslexia.html

    I have visited Stanford’s d.school, and would highly recommend you check it out too.

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