Ok, this isn’t strictly about social education, it’s about about another education-related issue that parents of boys can especially relate to: video games as learning tools.

My 11-year old recently got turned on to the site MangaHigh.com that teaches math in video-game format. For example, in one game, he gets to shoot attacking robots by figuring out the equation floating above each robot’s head. When he types the right answer, the two gun-toting, Halo type hands in the foreground, blow the robot away. If he gets it wrong, the robot keeps advancing. The more robots he blows away, the harder the questions get.

My kid, who’s a big fan of video games but not so much math, asks to go on MangaHigh every night. and it’s definitely a great way for him to review and practice basic concepts.

Does the good outweigh the bad? 

The question is, does the benefit of him getting excited about doing math, and what he reviews/learns when he does, outweigh the fact he’s doing it through blowing things away in a format the reinforces his love of regular video games many parents struggle with?

I’d say this is one of those times to apply the great principle “everything in moderation” using the following guidelines:

1) Video-game based teaching tools can be just that – one more tool – in your toolbox to be used sparingly along with others.

2) Kids should always be supervised to ensure they’re playing sufficiently challenging games and not just blowing away the 1+1 robots.

3) Introduce kids to sites using non-video game dynamics like IXL.

4) Play outside as much as possible.

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