Last week in The Grand Rapids Press I found it interesting to find two articles which seem to pivot around the same idea. Article #1 titled “These toys can help kids have healthier minds, bodies” was written by a Harvard Health doctor and the list of toys to help a child’s mind includes: Blocks, drawing materials, dollhouses, cars, play kitchen, dress-up clothes.
For those of you who read this list and said “yeah right, any child would get bored with these.” you are not alone. Dr. McCarthy admits boredom might be the result of some of these toys, but she also points out that boredom might be a key piece to breeding creativity. “If they are constantly entertained, they will never learn to entertain themselves, and they will miss out on important opportunities to create and explore.”
Now just a few pages later in the same edition of The Grand Rapids Press is the article titled ” ‘Fortnite’ addiction is forcing kids into video-game rehab”. Whoa. In this article Jef Feeley and Christopher Palmeri give a laundry list of issues with kids being hooked into gaming, specifically Fortnite.
- A divorce service in the United Kingdom cited ‘Fortnite’ as the reason in 200 petitions for divorce.
- The Vancouver Canucks banned Fortnite after players were consistently missing meetings and team dinners.
- David Price, the star pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, was scratched from a start after wrist issues similar to carpal tunnel were heightened due to excessive Fortnite play.
- Kids have been tricking parents into credit card purchases for the game, sometimes racking up hundreds of dollars in unplanned bills.
- In June 2018 the World Health Organization designated “gaming disorder” as a disease for the first time.
“This game is like heroin. Once you are hooked, it’s hard to get unhooked.” In 2013 psychologists began using the term Nomophobia to describe the irrational fear of being without your mobile phone or being unable to use your phone for some reason. Withdraw symptoms are similar to other addictive substances like alcohol or drugs. Shakes, headache, anxiety, and nausea are physical manifestations of this addiction to electronics.
Potentially the worst part of this growing issue is that there is a consensus that gaming addiction is going to continue to grow as a problem. Electronic device addiction has simply run amok!
The sad irony in my reading last week was that the research-based, tried and true toys for helping develop young minds are incredibly simplistic. Blocks. Cars. Kitchen. The piece that makes something unique and special is the creativity a kid puts with the toy to entertain themselves. When comparing the extremes of the toy technology spectrum it is a bit baffling how research continues to show that simple toys create more mental growth than the latest “greatest” technology.
As 2018 comes to a close I hope and pray the future holds an emphasis on getting back to the basics. Michio Kaku has given his prediction of what the future of jobs will hold, and I completely agree. The ability to create, to process, and to collaborate will be much more important than the ability to complete repetitive tasks. Gaming is in many ways the pinnacle of becoming fluent at a repetitive task. Since a gaming platform is encoded, users are confined to carrying out functions that have a pre-determined result.
Now whether or not their is an argument about gaming being necessary to stay relevant in digital society might carry some weight, but that is a a topic for another time. Peace.