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Computer Games Do Not Rot The Brain 30 December 2006

Posted by David in Conservatives.
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I used to like Henley MP Boris Johnson. Then he decided he was inclined to support euthanasia, supported taxpayers funding university learning for learnings sake, made a documentary about the EU which was Eurosceptic but too soft and accepted the EU as a noble principle, and has now become a Luddite.

“Computer games rot the brain,” he declares in the Telegraph. According to Boris they are responsible for the decline in literacy rates. He rattles off statistics on reading and game console usage but fails to give any proof of a link between the two.

“It was among the first acts of the Labour Government to institute a universal literacy hour in primary schools; and yet, in the six years following 1997, the numbers of young children who said that they didn’t like reading rose from 23 per cent to 35 per cent,” he writes. He blames computer games. But maybe this increase was because of the rigid, bland, formulaic and one-size-fits-all literacy hour? It was introduced during my last year at primary school and I hated it! As Sam Leith wrote in the Telegraph, “worrying computer games aren’t teaching your children to read is like worrying books aren’t teaching your children to swim; or complaining you can’t make a tangerine out of Meccano.”

Boris urges people to smash their children’s computer consoles. But really what’s needed is moderation. Too much of any single thing at the expense of all else is bad. I know of parents who banned their children from games consoles or watching non-educational television and tried to instill a love of reading. Their son had a mental break down at 15 and walks around zombie like, unable to talk with any coherence, knowing nothing of the 21st Century.

Furthermore computer games do not rot the brain. Some do, some don’t. The same can be said of television, art, music, newspapers, blogs and even books. Computer games can build hand-eye coordination, management skills and other abilities, depending on the game. Some playSimCity, some play Soduku, we should just let people get on with their own interests.

So please Boris, get a life! Not everyone will enjoy reading, that’s their free choice. The failure is with the schools, not the computers.

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