Those young guys playing video games in their parents’ basements? They’re loving life.

A survey finds male teenagers spent an average of 56 minutes a day gaming, while girls devoted only seven minutes. Rex C. Curry/Dallas Morning News/MCT

At Thursday’s Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education forum, the Federal Reserve’s Dr. David Altig made a surprising observation about those unambitious young men playing video games in their parents’ basements rather than climbing the corporate ladder — or any ladder.

On happiness scales, Altig said those young men are “ecstatic.” The reason: The cost of what they love to do has become less and less expensive.

Video gaming systems have become much more affordable, which is good news for these ardent young fans. “They are not going to work because they have really good opportunities for stuff they really want to do for cheap,”  Altig said.

“Do you know who is unhappy? Their parents,” said Altig, executive vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

After I tweeted Altig’s comments, I heard from several people about how their nephews, sons or grandsons were among those young men who retreat to the basement, den or bedroom to blissfully play hours of video games.

Is that so bad? Based on all the Facebook confessions, half of America binge-watches new TV shows on Netflix for six-hour stretches. And it seems many baby boomer woman are scheduling their Thanksgiving vacations around Friday’s premiere of “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.”

In one of my discussions this weekend with a self-admitted video game addict, a newly married young man pointed out his gaming habit is not as expensive as his wife’s affinity for antiques. Her Saturday forays to the antique shops in Madison or Marietta cost them hundreds of dollars, while his video game marathons cost them nothing, he noted.

Does it makes sense for schools to capitalize on this video game fascination? Rather than lamenting young men’s devotion to Pokemon Go or Doom, should we figure out how to better deliver instruction via gaming formats?

Many schools are already incorporating gaming into their lesson plans, although the research cannot tell us yet about the long-term impact on learning. There is a good summation of the research in this Scientific American article, which notes:

The extent to which video games are the future of education remains to be seen. But if the present is any indication, teachers are embracing the medium and are likely to continue to do so. In fact, of those teachers who use video games in the classroom, more than half have kids play them as part of the curriculum at least once a week, according to a national survey released by education researchers at Joan Ganz Cooney Center in June.

Perhaps the biggest impact of video games will be on students who have not responded as well to traditional teaching methods. Nearly half of the teachers surveyed say it is the low-performing students who generally benefit from the use of games, and more than half believe games have the ability to motivate struggling and special education students.






Reader Comments 0

Don't Tread
Don't Tread

Well of course the parents are unhappy...they're left footing most of the bills.  But then again, who are the ones at fault?  The same (now unhappy) parents that bought the kid their first game system, usually at a very young age.

You reap what you sow.  Raise your kids better, or they will be mooching off you forever.


Somebody, anybody, please. When did education get reduced to “deliver instruction” processes? And why be concerned with “how to better deliver instruction,” via any media, than be concerned with improving education processes? Have we really come to believe it is possible to reduce education processes to algorithmic processes implemented in software, gaming and otherwise? As an APS Crim High School student said in testimony in the case of a Crim teacher the superintendent sought to fire, and did fire, for holding an uncompromising commitment to educate and not just to instruct: “They may be instructing us, but they are not educating us.”

To the extent education continues to be reduced to instruction delivery, why would we believe civil society and adherence to democratic ideals and practice won’t corrode, correspondingly?  To be replaced by governance by oligarchs and/or corporatists?

And why would we be surprised that:

America’s Schools Could Be Partly To Blame For Donald Trump’s Rise

Besides, are the “young men playing video games in their parents’ basements” fundamentally different from school choice adherents’ me-and-mine paradigm?

Shanon Woolf
Shanon Woolf

I might add that while his video game marathons don't "cost" him anything, his wife is going out into the world, meeting people, striking up conversations, learning things, applying what she already knows to new situations, etc. There is always a cost - he's just thinking financially.

Matt Vickery
Matt Vickery

Kick their butts out or charge them rent.