About a week ago, I got an email from the producer (Sissi Wang) of CBC’s Quirks and Quarks, a Canadian award-winning science radio show that runs some of the most cutting-edge science stories. They wanted to talk with me about my work on video games. They were reaching out to a professor in the Netherlands, expecting, well, a professor FROM the Netherlands. They happened to have contacted one of their biggest fans. Not only do I know about Q&Q from having lived in Toronto for most of my life, I’m a longstanding rock-solid fan girl of the show. When I was a kid, I was a super-keen listener and I credit the show for sparking some of my initial interest in all things “Science” (this genuine delight for the subject was then promptly stomped all over and almost completely crushed out of me during my high school years in Florida… long story for another post).
So imagine my thrill to be asked to take part in a Quirks & Quarks documentary on the benefits and harms of playing video games. The interview turned out to be a lovely experience. Part of my delight in talking with both the producer (Sissi Wang) and the host (Bob McDonald), was the genuine surprise they seemed to feel about the varied ways games were contributing positively to children’s development. I sometimes forget the extreme bad rap video games still have in most circles. Our conversation covered a bunch of terrain and I was challenged to address many long-held preconceptions about video games (they lead to real-world violence, they’re addictive, they’re making kids antisocial, etc). I think I did a reasonable job setting out what most excites me about the potential of games to promote emotional and mental health for the next generation of young people growing up digital. Have a listen here (the article also does a nice job of summarizing some of the main talking points):