I was playing a videogame the other day when I heard my mom yell, “You computer nerds have been on your screens long enough! Go outside!”
Of course I was in the middle of a multiplayer match of Starcraft. “Coming, mom!” I shouted back. Then I went into battle mode, determined to crush the enemy player before time ran out.
Unfortunately, my mom is kind of crafty and suspected my intentions. “Ha!” she exclaimed, startling me out of my chair just in time for my opponent to attack and suffer no resistance.
I looked regretfully at the screen, which now had a message from my opponent, “lol u trash mate.” Then I walked outside while my mom took the keyboard away from the computer.
The incident got me thinking: “Why was computer time a bad thing?”
In my experience, computer time has been awesome: solving video game challenges, playing with friends and strangers online, discussing ambitious ideas, and learning from real experts on Khan Academy.
What was so special about real life?
My mom’s generation isn’t used to digital technology. So I tried to explain it to her in terms she could understand: Playing Starcraft, to me, was like playing baseball to my dad. Building a castle in Minecraft was like making a fort in the woods. Except I never lose my work and instead of playing with the kids on my street, I can play with kids from Korea.
For me, the Internet is a pretty awesome place to learn and explore. And by using it now, I learn about myself and how I’ll need to use it later. There won’t be limits on how much I play Starcraft when I go to college, so it makes sense to let younger people like me figure it out now. I’ve known people who’ve gone totally overboard in college because they were restricted their entire childhood.
In fact, videogames can be hugely beneficial. One of my friends learned to code and make useful stuff through Minecraft command blocks. Videogames often inspire a greater sense to self-improve and learn in the real world. Or they can just be a fun activity, like watching a movie or football game with friends.
So, uh, mom... can I have the keyboard back?
I’m Michael Andrzejewski, the idealist, and that’s my perspective.