Study Recommends Online Gaming, Social Networking For Kids

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J. DOe
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Study Recommends Online Gaming, Social Networking For Kids

The article, at http://games.slashdot.org/...">http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/11/20/1755213]http://games.s..., says:

Quote:Blue's News pointed out a report about a study sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation which found that online">http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/19/BUKE147TA1.D... gaming and social networking are beneficial to children, teaching them basic technical skills and how to communicate in the Information Age. The study was conducted over a period of three years, with researchers interviewing hundreds of children and monitoring thousands of hours of online time. The full">http://www.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7BB0386CE3-8B29-4162-8098-E466FB856794%7... white paper (PDF) is also available.

I read the study report and glanced through most of the 58 pages in the full white paper. My impression is that it seems to look at how young people are using technology but without asking certain important questions such as what dangers are there and how can we help these kids, as adults and parents, with making the best use of these technologies. As a programmer, I am hardly a luddite type person, but I am 45 years old and am hybrid of somebody who grew up with relatively little technology but works with it a lot now. I believe that computers and technology provide very powerful tools that can be both used, and abused! One thing that I am somewhat disappointed is that the study did not seem to look at risks such as gaming addiction, even if it only affects a minority of children. The closest thing that I found related to that is on page 34:

Quote:The issue of leadership and team organization was a topic that was central to Rachel Cody's study of Final Fantasy XI. Cody spent seven months participant-observing in a high-level "linkshell," or guild. Although many purely social linkshells do populate FFXI, Cody's linkshell was an "endgame" linkshell, meaning that the group aimed to defeat the high-level monsters in the game. The participants organized the linkshell in a hierarchical system, with a leader and officers who had decision-making authority, and new members needed to be approved by the officers. Often the process of joining the linkshell involved a formal application and interview, and members were expected to conform to the standards of the group and perform effectively in battle as a team. The linkshell would organize "camps" where sometimes more than 150 people would wait for a high-level monster to appear and then attack with a well-planned battle strategy. Gaming can function as a site for organizing collective action, which can vary from the more lightweight arrangements of kids getting together to play competitively to the more formal arrangements that we see in a group such as Cody's linkshell. In all of these cases, players are engaging in a complex social organization that operates under different sets of hierarchies and politics than those that occupy them in the offline world. These online groups provide an opportunity for youth to exercise adult-like agency and leadership that is not otherwise available to them. Although the relationships they foster in these settings are initially motivated by media-related interests, these collaborative arrangements and ongoing social exchange often result in deep and lasting friendships with new networks of like-minded peers.

One thing that I find interesting is that they say that playing these games "often result in deep and lasting friendships". However, I have read quite a few posts on this site that say that these friendships may seem very strong and deep, but they are mostly based on the game and, thus, disappear if you leave the game.

- John O.

[em]Carpe Diem![/em] (Seize the Day!)