An excerpt of this article was originally published as a letter in The Evening Standard, 4 April 2012.
The children’s technology charity Lifelites leapt to the defence of the video gaming industry this week. The national charity questioned an article in Tuesday’s Evening Standard that suggested gaming stunts interaction between children and limits exercise.
Responding to the piece, Lifelites Chief Executive, Simone Enefer-Doy said, “Gaming companies make it clear that some video games are not suitable for younger age groups. And, far from being to the detriment of a child’s education, video games can form a vital part of their development.”
Lifelites provides fun and educational technology for children in children’s hospices throughout country. Their packages contain some of the latest gaming consoles and state-of-the-art games.
It was taking an innovative approach to bringing technology to children in hospices that won Lifelites recognition last year when they were announced as overall winners of the Technology4Good Awards.
Simone said “Gaming forms an integral part of the care children receive when they stay in children’s hospices. Not only does it provide a welcome distraction for them, it is also a great social tool – giving them an opportunity to play with their brothers, sisters and friends on a level playing field - often for the first time ever.
"And, for those with associated disabilities, we know gaming is brilliant to help them break down communication barriers and give them at least one thing they can have some form of control over in their lives.”
She said “You try telling the play teams we work with at the children’s hospices that consoles like the Wii and Kinect are bad for exercise! On the contrary, previously withdrawn children and those with cystic fibrosis are suddenly spurred into action.”
Simone continued, “And for those children who live in bodies with the minimum of movement, playing games with a head mouse or eye control technology can be just about the most liberating thing for them - you just have to hear them chuckling to themselves as they play; it has to be seen to be believed.
“Studies have shown that children who play computer games – who immerse themselves in lternative realities - can be much more creative.”
She said, “Children in the playground have always played cops and robbers. Instead of criticising the creative energy that these games spark, we should be celebrating it. We could have them writing plays, or even making films – just as they have done with Lifelites equipment in hospices like Richard House in London.”