Can time spent playing online games help teens develop cultural competency? What do you think?
A few months ago, I introduced two groups of eighth grade students on a Ravi Unites Schools video conference call. They waved at each other through their laptops and began to chat, and noted the obvious: they live 12 hours apart.
Like most students who participate in this new initiative, their lives take place in opposite realities. One lives in Mumbai, India, which is home to 22 million people, while the other lives in a small town in the United States. As one group heads into nighttime, the other begins the day.
On this call, they searched for commonalities across many miles and their different cultures. Sports? One group played cricket, while the other played American football. Favorite foods? Hamburgers and hot dogs in the U.S.; samosas and curry in Mumbai. And the weather? It was hot and humid in India, while the U.S. students in were shoveling out of a late spring snow (again!).
They did share the stress and satisfaction of doing well in school. But this wasn’t what they wanted to talk about. After only a few minutes, they made their discovery: each was mildly obsessed with the latest global teen phenomenon: multiplayer online gaming.
Before the end of this real-time audio-video interaction, the two schools agreed to find a day and time to team up and play.
What are your thoughts about the value of online gaming for teens across the world?
I will share results in a future blog post.
While some fear that too much time online can create unhealthy habits, from my view multiplayer online gaming appears to be a unique way to cultivate cultural competence. It develops a ‘macro-mindedness’ as youth connect and team up with peers they would otherwise never meet. The opportunity for leaders is to harness the potential of this reality to see that deeper learning takes place. To live and thrive in this world, today’s children must learn the intricacies of a connected globe.