Software developer by day. Impatient chef by night.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Electronic Entertainment

I recently had the startling realization that the way I manage finances is highly influenced by the countless hours I spent in my younger years playing SimCity2000 and Rollercoaster Tycoon. Those two games taught me to balance the management of immediate cashflow and making investments that will pay off in the distant future, long before I would ever consider using the terms "cashflow" and "investment" in my normal vocabulary.

On the other hand, I do regret the thousands of hours I spent being entertained in front of a 15" CRT, when I could have been spending my time developing healthy face-to-face relationships with other people, learning all sorts of fascinating things about the real world, using imagination, and generally being more beneficial to society.

I think that there's a balance to be struck here; I would argue that the right video games in moderation aren't a complete waste of time, and can actually teach more than watching the latest primetime television series. I think mainly you have to be very careful about how much time is spent doing so.

As an aside, I also have the opinion that entertainment that tries too overtly hard to be "educational", generally ISN'T. (See "Baby Einsteins: Not So Smart After All" for an excruciating example). I'm inclined to think that the above-mentioned games were in fact WAY more educational than reading and math games.

I'll conclude by saying that I've been thinking a lot about how to help foster my children's enthusiasm for learning. I think mostly the key is to just spend time doing things with them. My wife and I have discovered that our children seem to come with a great curiosity about the world around them, and we have the opinion that the key to feeding and developing that curiosity is to spend time with them doing a variety of activities, including reading, cooking, gardening, singing, hiking, camping, and yes, also playing computer games. I think it's all about spending time together, teaching that there are so many fascinating things to explore in this world, and finding a balance.