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Kids and Computer Games... Not All Bad

Boot Camp feature for Thursday, April 5, 2007

Kids and computer games. The news isn't all bad. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. The amount of time kids spend playing computer and video games is a lot more than many parents would like. But David Williamson Shaffer' associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin says there are some games that can be better for kids than sitting in a typical classroom. Shaffer is the author of How Computer Games Help Children Learn..

'What my book focuses on is what games are, in fact, going to be good games for kids to play. How parents and teachers might know that they're good games and even more important, how they can help their kids choose good games and play them well.'

Shaffer looks for games like Sim City' that can help kids develop a variety of new thinking skills'and has been testing what he calls epistemic games'. that help players learn to think like engineers, architects or journalists. Those titles'may wind up on the market within the next year or two. And he argues'.

'Right now we have schools that focus on teaching basic facts and basic skills to pass standardized tests in a world where standardized skills don't get you very far. What our children need today is to learn to think and innovate in creative ways about real problems and computer games are one of the best ways we can do that.'

Shaffer is a graduate, by the way, of the MIT Media Lab and taught in the Technology and Education Program at the Harvard Graudate School of Education. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.