*In my pursuit of further education I am enrolled in a course on games and learning. Part of the expectations for this course is to take ownership of my learning and explore the connections between games and learning for myself, this blog post is a continuation of the documentation of my learning.
This week I found a large study from the Pew Research Center called Teens, Technology and Friendships: Video games, social media and mobile phones play an integral role in how teens meet and interact with friends. I was interested in this study because it provides an interesting statistical snapshot of how teens are using digital communication to make and maintain friendships. The digital communication was facilitated through text messaging, social media, and multiplayer online games. I feel that the presence of more friendships that exist through digital means could provide some interesting opportunities to apply theories about in-room communication and learning that were proposed in Stevens, Satwicz, and McCarthy’s article In-Game, In-Room, In-World: Reconnecting Video Game Play to the Rest of Kids’ Lives.
The statistics shared in the Pew article were surprising to me. I felt that teens were going to be active using digital communication but I assumed that it would be to stay in touch with the people they had met in the physical world. Similar to how I use my digital communication. I did not expect for teens to be making and developing friendships completely in the digital world. I learned that, 57% of the teens from the study had made at least one friend online and of the friends that had been made digitally, one in five pairs eventually meet in person. Video games played over the internet hold an important place in the communication between teen friends in digital spaces, with 46% of teens playing online games with friends at least once a week, with 67% of male teens playing online games at least once a week.
The communication between teen friends online could benefit them in ways that Stevens, Satwicz, and McCarthy showed in-room communication helped young people learn when playing games together. Digital communication through online games enables players support one another in learning and mastering a in-game skills by enabling users to be mentors for new players, be a just-in-time expert recourse, or problem solve cooperatively through coordinated talk.
Knowing that a large number of teens are already using online games as ways to make and maintain friendships I would be interested in taking a theme camp experience and building up its online presence, as a way to get kids socially involved outside of the physical camp. I am particularly thinking of the Young American’s Bank program Young Ameritowne, which gives elementary students the chance to participate in a simulated economy. Participants apply for jobs, trade labor for paychecks, set-up/manage bank accounts, and get to be consumers.
I think that bringing some of their offerings into the digital world, Young American’s Bank, could make a bigger impact on participants than they currently do. Digital jobs could mirror computer skills needed for each of the professions offered in the simulated economy and give the children a more rounded idea of what is required for each job before applying and interviewing. Online communication should be encouraged for participants to discuss experiences and problem solving strategies. Finally participants could open their Ameritowne bank accounts online, and benefit form an online banking simulation.