To the Editor:
Almost every household in America has a video-game system. Middle school children who can’t read are allowed to play unlimited sessions on their game systems. Even our high achievers are losing ground.
The problem isn’t the games; it’s the way we parent. We let kids play as long as they like, and then we nag them about it. The game system causes tension and fights, and all the while kids aren’t reading.
I say let children decide how much or how long they want to play the video games. Make a deal with them. For every half-hour they read, they get to play the games for an hour. If they want to bank the hours and they read for two hours, then they have four hours of gaming time earned.
You have just turned your $300 game system into an investment, and there will be no more bickering because it is entirely up to the child.
I would consider myself an expert on middle school boys, as I have worked with this population for 25 years, and I am the father of two boys. Throughout my career, I noticed less and less reading at home, and as an educator it concerned me. It wasn’t until I became a father that I identified an issue.
I implement this video-game-to-reading investment program with all the boys I educate, and I usually see 20-point growth on our state’s reading tests, when typical growth for the year is 3 to 5 points.
Community Consolidated School District 62
Des Plaines, Ill.
A version of this article appeared in the May 15, 2013 edition of Education Week as Parents Should Trade Gaming for Reading Time