KINGSTON, Jamaica – “Miss, you see this game, it’s very addictive, very addictive!”
These were the words of a student who sought to explain to his teacher why several of his classmates were distracted and lagging behind.
In addition to internet accessibility and device limitations, Jamaican teachers and students face another daily challenge to effective online learning: video games.
Last month, China announced it was banning children from playing online games for more than three hours a week to reduce screen time, fearing it would have an outsized influence on society.
Lily: China limits children to 3 hours of online gaming per week
And, for a social studies teacher at Papine High School, Jamaica has the same problem.
“I remember last term I noticed that some of my students were falling behind – students who were very active in class and stuff like that. So one day I said to them, ‘Guys, what’s the problem?’ and a student said to me – because I’ve heard of games and stuff like that – ‘I miss you, you see that game, it’s very addictive, very addictive!” the teacher, who taught eighth and ninth grades in the last school year, shared with ONLINE OBSERVER.
“And I know a few of them. Some of them don’t log in and you have students informing about them and seh ‘miss so and so is playing a game that’s why they don’t come to class,’ the teacher continued. “I think it’s a serious problem, because even today I had to say to some of my students listening, ‘the people who made PUBG and Free Fire and all these other games, it’s okay. Very So don’t spend your time playing games and not getting work done.
Garena Free Fire and PUBG Mobile were among the highest ranked games in the world in 2020, just behind Among Us and Subway Surfers. In this year alone, Garena Free Fire had a record 218 million downloads while PUBG Mobile had 175 million downloads.
A report by Business of Apps, which provides world-class analytics and data for app companies, further stated that PUBG Mobile was already starting to rise in 2019, but with the coronavirus pandemic, the game exploded at both in downloads and revenue, making $270 million. a month after the world entered its first lockdown in March 2020.
The high school teacher said one of the strategies she uses to keep students active in class and monitor their participation is appealing to them.
“My strategy is to call on them constantly and sometimes I’ll say ‘listen, if I can’t hear you, you’ll be marked absent’, because what we’ve done, we have a system — well that’s was in middle school, I’m not sure about high school – where we have responsible students who record the names of people who attend class.
“So when they attend classes their names would be recorded and then their parents would be given the name so their parents would know if they were in class or not and then it could now trigger something when the parents say ‘what? So-and-so wasn’t in class? she says.
Yet even with his strategy, the students remained distracted.
“They want to get out of class and go play games… Of course you have times when as a teacher you sit in front of the camera, you get tired, your eyes get tired and those are students they’re kids so their attention span may not last throughout time so ok i’m listening miss i’m not in writing class there’s no one to me so watch mek mi gwaan listen miss and gwaan play the game but in truth and fact sometimes when you call them it’s ‘yes’ miss’ but you asked a question what is the question they don’t know, then it’s obvious they’re distracted,” the teacher explained.
“I had a student who was very active in class, very attentive, always there on time, always participating and I noticed that his attendance was dropping, he was arriving late, he was no longer participating like before. He was one of the students I asked what was going on and he said “I miss the game, the game, the game”. It distracts me miss, it affects my concentration and it’s so addictive. Miss it addictive, it addictive. Enter like you stop playing, it’s very addictive,” she added.
But a 16-year-old from St Andrew Technical High School doesn’t see video games as all that bad.
He said video games help him and his friends stay sane.
Admitting that he plays video games more during the pandemic than before, he said, “Before COVID, we could go out, watch a movie, have fun. Now we have to stay inside and we don’t see our friends and you know how you could go out and hang out with your friend you can’t do that and you can’t interact with people too much like once . ”
“When we play games, we interact with our friends on the game so we can play with them, talk to them, enjoy them and dem sumn deh,” he shared.
Noting that video games take longer during the day, the student, who said he only plays games during class when the teacher’s Wi-Fi goes down or is down, or if no connection to a class was provided, insisted that it does not affect learning.
“At the end of the day, when you take online classes, some people learn, some people don’t learn, and sometimes the teacher doesn’t come to class… If five people are in the class or the teacher doesn’t send no link, wah we’re supposed to do? he said.
For Malacia Gordon, an English language and literature teacher from grades 7 to 11 at Lycée Ardenne, video games have both a positive and negative impact on students.
“I think they allow students to learn to multi-task so they can do more than one thing at the same time and they can also quickly switch between tasks. I so think video games help with that. Plus it helps them process information better. So because things happen so fast in video games, I think it helps them with cognitive development. Anything can be positive in how it is used, how learning is transferred and how it is managed,” she explained.
But Gordon couldn’t deny the negative impact of video games on children, noting that “they get distracted playing video games in class.”
“I’ve heard horror stories of teachers having to discipline students for playing video games in class. It’s a diversion.
“For me, my experience with video games did not affect learning, but the behavior of the student,” the teacher said, citing examples of students being depressed because they weren’t allowed. to play games.
Gordon teaches about 40 students, of whom she said at least 35 are engaged at any given time.
“For online classes, our attendance is a bit better than some other schools, some other experiences I’ve heard.
“With everyone being online and social distancing, maybe we’re getting there, but I don’t think we’re at our peak with the students and the trauma of online or video games, but I think we can have a problem with screen time in general,” she continued.
For Gordon, the camera interval strategy works best for monitoring student participation.
“For my classes, what I do is – it’s harder to monitor online because everyone’s in their own space, in their own world, so what I do sometimes is turn on the cameras during intervals. You’ll have students saying “Miss, there are other people in my past, I can’t turn my camera on” — I don’t care. I just want you to turn it on during two seconds, let me know what’s going on and make sure you’re there.
“They now offer a lot of different teaching and management systems, so it’s a bit easier, or not easier, but it helps to monitor students, for example Nearpod and Quizizz. If you give them activities using Nearpod and Quizizz, you can see – in real time – which students are actually participating in those activities,” Gordon said.
Nearpod is a website that provides real-time feedback on student understanding through interactive lessons, interactive videos, playful learning, formative assessment, and activities. Similarly, Quizizz allows teachers to participate in online activities in their classroom and find or create their own quizzes and flashcards.
“The general idea is, let me see where you are, what you are doing at any given time,” added the teacher.
Meanwhile, a senior Department of Education official said school administrators have never reported addressing an issue regarding children playing video games during online lessons.
“It is not an issue that we are dealing with at this time,” the rep said, adding that “school boards and administrators have a mandate to institute measures to address student indiscipline, including bullying. inattention during distance learning”.
Some of these measures include, but are not limited to: periodic requests to activate cameras for online learning, student participation in class discussions and for an established class rule, random requests made to students during lessons, student and parent conferences to address learning concerns, demerit systems, referrals to guidance counselors for counseling and social support needs, mentoring, etc
“When issues go beyond management at the school level, it is referred to the ministry for intervention. No intervention has been requested to date,” the representative said.