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Canada Medicine Games

Kid Health Experts Attack Video Game Summer Camp 123

Jack Action writes "The University of British Columbia runs a summer camp where kids get to play computer games for three hours a day. The camp organizers say it is 'a good social opportunity for some kids who didn't fit into other programs.' However, health professionals declare they are 'troubled' by the camp. A professor in UBC's department of medicine says kids should be outside and engaged in 'unstructured play,' while the CEO of an NGO that monitors kids' health chimes in that they already spend too much time in front of screens and not exercising. Do the health experts have a point, or are they just criticizing something they don't understand, or perhaps is not to their taste?"
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Kid Health Experts Attack Video Game Summer Camp

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  • Just Cause 2 is pretty unstructured.

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      If you can combine computer gaming with physical activities you may end up with an interesting camp. Both at the same time could be really good.

      Use laser tag [] vests, GPS and a lot of other stuff and you may get an exercise worth it.

    • The solution is to actually have Health Experts attack the camp. You know, paint ball guns and the like. That would get those kids up and out and active.

      Geez... people who complain without bothering to actually DO something about it really bug me.

  • video game camp...
  • Last I checked... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SetupWeasel ( 54062 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @06:21PM (#32050640) Homepage

    the day is still 24 hours. Are three hours of video games more detrimental to their bodies than 6 to 8 hours of school classes?

    • by spyder913 ( 448266 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @06:25PM (#32050694)

      ...or reading? People are too quick to condemn video games.

    • by Shadow of Eternity ( 795165 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @06:26PM (#32050698)

      We have a winner!

      When I was in school I woke up at 5:30-6:00am, and spent until 3:00 sitting in one seat or another before coming home and "officially" having 3 hours* of homework per class according to pretty much every document the school had.

      Take 9 hours for sleeping and you've got 15 left during the day, 12 hours of something other than playing videogames for 4 months straight is a damn sight less unhealthy for kids than sitting at a desk for about 12 hours a day for ~10 months straight.

      *Yes, 18 hours of homework starting at 3pm. Nobody I asked could ever find the problem with this until I pointed out that would last until after my second class the next day.

      • >>>3 hours* of homework per clas

        What??? Maybe they meant per week. That wouldn't be too bad - about 1/2 hour per class per day.

        I used to get all my homework done before 5 pm (while watching the afternoon cartoons). Sometimes I had a book report that I had to bang-out on my typewriter, which kept me up til bedtime. Anything more than that is just nuts. After all adults typically only work 8 to 5, or 8 to 6. It makes sense for kids to follow the same schedule.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by GoatCheez ( 1226876 )
          I went to a private school and we also had 3 hours of homework per class per day. The scary part is that sometimes we really were assigned 3 hours of homework per class per day. We also were required to write a term paper for each non-english class per semester. For english classes we generally had 2-4 papers to do per semester depending on grade and level. Term papers and preparation for them (reading source material) did not factor into the 3 hours. I REALLY hated high school. Let these kids play some ga
          • I'm in graduate school and I barely have that much. Four courses, Three hours per course per day. That's 60 hours of work a week. Plus a job. No, no way do high school students truly have three hours of work per class per day. That would be 90+ hours per week.

            • by Starayo ( 989319 )
              Ahahah, I remember when I thought high school teachers knew basic math as well. Those were the days.

              I went to a public school and got anywhere from 1-3 hours homework per class per day. Which is anywhere from 5-15 hours worth. Never did any of it myself, of course, because there were no real consequences for me besides the odd half lunch detention and I aced all tests anyway. Fuck them if they think I'll do their inane work. If I'm doing inane work I'd better be getting paid for it.

              Good ol' public sch
            • I had a similar routine, which basically meant that my classmates and I were up 6:30-7:00, in for 8:15, classes until 4:00pm (plus a short lunch break and early morning break), 2 subjects set homework p/d and each subjects homework was meant to take 1.5 hours, so I'd arrive home by about 5:00pm, then do about 3 hours of homework, and eat, which would leave me at about 9:00pm looking at about an hours free time at home - which given the tiredness I was left in by the schedule, was mostly spent... seated. Be
        • Nope, modern highschools in america consider 3 hours of homework per class per day to be reasonable. I averaged a couple papers, about 100-150 algebra problems, and a stack of worksheets.

          READING was assigned on a weekly basis though, which usually meant you could get away with 100-200 pages per week depending on how long your book's chapters were.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Now this doesn't make a lick of sense to me.

            I admit to being a slacker. I don't know whether or not I'm a "genius" of any kind, and in fact I doubt it, but I passed all of high school and a 4 year college (in 6 years, admittedly) doing virtually none of the homework assigned. I have a decent grasp on pretty much everything I set my mind to in spite of that, even just barely passing. Am I ready to jump into any number of careers that require some of the more arcane things they taught? No. But I'd probab

          • by socz ( 1057222 )
            I think it depends on the school your attending and how they go about 'homework.' The public school I was supposed to go to gave out packets of homework for their mixed bag of math classes. While I on the other hand had chapters of math to go through.

            The public school kids (my buddies) also finished school 'early' and had 1/2 days for most of their last year, while I had more hours of school 7 AM to 3:30 PM.

            If I got out at 11:30~12 everyday I would have time for 3 hours of homework, but not with my schoo
            • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward

              My memory of high school (public school, early 1990's, midwestern U.S.) was that I had a mix of advanced (some were even college prep) and regular classes. The few advanced classes sucked on homework. (Typically heaps of busywork in addition to new material.) But getting a few D's in some of the advanced classes (like English Lit) put me in the regular classes for those subjects. And despite being bummed out it somehow it turned out beneficial and allowed me to prioritize. Regular classes had much less home

          • Nope, modern highschools in america

            And by this, you presumably mean your high school specifically.

        • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

          Except that to get into a decent college kids are also expected to do a couple hours of extra-curricular activities a day as well. Throw in a sport, band/orchestra, newspaper/yearbook, theater/forensics, or a couple misc. clubs and a lot of kids probably don't get home until 6-7pm. Add in 3 hours of homework a night and they barely have time for dinner, let alone a video game. It's a pretty brutal schedule, to be honest.

          Then again, there are a lot of kids who don't bother with extracurricular activities

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by hldn ( 1085833 )

            i'm one of those that didn't bother with extracurricular activities or homework and i don't live in my parents' basement, you insensitive clod.

          • I didn't do any of that crap. I joined the art club and then never showed up but once (painted the fall play's background scenes), but still listed it on my college application. Ditto the poetry magazine (published just once a year, and that was the one and only time I attended).

            Even though I was a slacker with the afterschool stuff, I still got accepted to all 4 colleges I applied, plus a free $5000 per year grant at one of them. Sometimes I think counselors mislead students, in order to try to get them

      • "officially" having 3 hours* of homework per class according to pretty much every document the school had.

        So, translation: "Teachers are free to give you up to 3 hours of homework for any given day, but are generally assumed not to do this consistently on a daily basis, because that would be absurd." Yes? Or was homework not actually for a grade at your school?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Close, it was for a grade and they actually did tend to give absurd quantities of work.

          • honestly, we don't get better as a society by doing it the easy way.

            suck it up and knuckle down, and someday you too can lose your job to outsourcing.

            *shoots self*

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I think that guideline is from college where you have 2 classes/week. Teachers teach what they were taught.
        • A Part Time college student has 2 Classes per week. Full Time Students have 4-6 classes per week. The Crazy Insane ones have 8. (or there are a bunch of small low credit classes, or labs for an other class)

          • I meant 2 meetings/week/class. Actually I think the rule about homework was based on classroom hours, which is clearer, but still doesn't apply to HS.
    • by nbert ( 785663 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @06:36PM (#32050820) Homepage Journal
      Prof. Mckay seems to be more concerned about "obesity levels" according to the article. However, I highly doubt that a summer camp is the right place to fix this issue and 3 hours of computer games a day won't make anyone fatter than he/she already is. It is hard for me to see any point in this story.
    • by mikael ( 484 )

      The computer games could be something like "Dance Dance Revolution" or other activity based computer games. I get the feeling that the issue isn't whether they are active or not, but more whether or not they are being creative and creating their own games with their own rules, rather than just having the rules enforces automatically by the computer system.

      Like when you played something like "SWAT teams" in the playground, and had an argument who shot who first.

  • These fat kids are just going to end up violent killers ... that is the more troubling issue!!
  • The sunlight makes it too hard to see the screen!
  • Lets Do the Math (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @06:23PM (#32050666) Journal

    24 hours in a day.

    As a kid, we'll say you SHOULD be getting 9 hours of sleep a night. Thats what the health experts say, anyways, especially for teens.

    So we're down to 15 hours already. Okay, lets say an hour for each of your 3 meals. Normally breakfast is a bit quicker and dinner is a bit longer, but it should all even out. So 12 hours. Lets say you want 3 hours of some kind of lessons. 9 hours. 3 hours for video games? 6 hours left.

    Thats 6 hours left to exercise outside, is that not an incredibly high amount? That's almost as much as a day job. These kids should BE so lucky.

    • by socz ( 1057222 )
      You're messing it up with 1 hour/lunch. You need to crank that sucker down to 15-25 mins max! That way, they don't have the chance to sit around and keep stuffing themselves. Once you hit 30 mins your glass shouldn't even have any water left!
    • by jedrek ( 79264 )

      Thats 6 hours left to exercise outside, is that not an incredibly high amount?

      you're kidding, right? in the summer, especially when my parents were working, i'd have 16-17 hours of free time/day. on a good day, 90% of that was spent outside or at least out of the house.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @06:23PM (#32050670) Journal

    they'd have no problem with it. In fact they'd probably praise it for being innovative. Double standard. - I think a gaming camp is a cool idea, especially if the games are oriented towards RPGs (reading) or simulations (strategies). Plus it's only 3 hours a day.
        They get exercise the other ~10 hours in the day.

    • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @06:59PM (#32051024) Journal

      I would suggest those "troubled health professionals" find a summer camp where they can go fuck themselves for 3 hours a day.

    • If it was a "reading" camp they'd have no problem with it. In fact they'd probably praise it for being innovative. Double standard.

      It's because you learn when you read: vocabulary, grammar, writing style, and knowledge. Unless all the games are educational (such as historical or market simulations), you're not going to learn much playing a game other than fine tuning your finger reflexes and how much the pretzel is worth in Ms PacMan. (Hint: 700 points)

      • You must play a very small selection of video games. Many video games (though most adults will refuse to admit it) teach planning, teamwork, resource management, hand-eye coordination, critical thinking in the midst of mayhem and long-term strategizing among others. Just because you played nothing but pacman and space invaders, doesn't mean everyone does.
      • >>>you're not going to learn much playing a game other than fine tuning your finger reflexes and how much the pretzel is worth in Ms PacMan. (Hint: 700 points)

        So addition.

        Also problem solving skills. Which has served me well as an engineer. With PacMan and other "twitch" games I learned to look for patterns. With Raiders of the Lost Ark or Pitfall, I learned to be stubborn and keep looking for the missing pieces even if it took me hours. With later computer games, like simulations and RPGs I le

    • Or chess camp.

      It's ridiculous. More brain-dead do-gooders fucking up the world with their dogmas and nonsense :/

  • Are all summer camp activities involving running, jumping, climbing trees (etc.)? Sure, three hours is a chunk of time. But it's not an entire day and it seems that the camp involves more than video games - which might actually be a subtle way to get kids running, jumping, climbing trees. As the article itself notes:

    Brownrigg said a recent report by her group showed that on average, young people spend six hours a day in front of screens...

    The camp might be a step towards working against that national ave

  • Actually, three hours of video games is probably substantially less than a lot of them would normally be playing.

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @07:00PM (#32051052)

      The fact they're going to a "video game camp" is strong evidence they wouldn't have gone to a "normal" summer camp to start with. So rather than spend those hours alone in their houses playing video games, at least here they have more opportunity to interact with others... which may lead to doing more things besides playing video games at home alone.

      • My kingdom for some mod points! That was unbelievably insightful. They're there, quite likely because they wouldn't WANT to go to any other camp.

  • Please tell me Jack Thompson isn't still alive and now trying to "Bacon" Canada; God help me if I ever meet that sorry excuse for a disbarred lawyer.
  • Why always sports? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Why does everybody try to force kids to do sports _all_the_time?

    a good social opportunity for some kids who didn't fit into other programs.

    That's IMHO a very good argument. There are many kids who simply don't like sports (I was one of them) and don't like to go to a 'sports camp'. Shouldn't they have other options?

    • by Taedirk ( 870181 )
      If they don't like sports, it obviously means they're gay. Or they're going to shoot everyone up. Or both. Haven't you been watching the news?!
    • So true. North America puts WAY too much emphasis on "being good at sports". News flash: It's not every kid's dream to become a professional sports athlete! Some of us... AC above me and myself... dislike sports. Hell, I DESPISE playing sports. Should I be seen as a pariah, shut out from the rest of society? Or maybe, just maybe, I see sports as a waste of time, and would rather spend time with my friends doing something OTHER than throwing a ball back and forth in my spare time.

  • So they play games for three hours a day.

    Assuming they leave about 10 hours for sleep/dorm time and 3 hours for eating, what happens the other 8 hours of the day?

    • Re:3 Hours A Day (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <> on Friday April 30, 2010 @06:38PM (#32050844) Homepage

      Well this being Canada, for the remaining 8hrs, we go out as a young child and wrangle our first beaver. Once we've successfully captured ibe, without our ankles being gnawed off we go for the moose. They're very tame, believe it or not. We haven't had a single goring fatality up here in 30 years. Once you've successfully got your pet beaver, and your war moose. We go hunting the national pest, it's called the Canadian Goose or They who shit on everything. That pretty much fills up the summer, kids are then taught to bunker down for the winter which lasts 8mo between construction, and black fly month.

      This isn't forgetting in the winter we have hockey, and hockey to keep us active and ensure we get snow blindness.

      • I was just about to mod this "funny" when I noticed the "informative" mod. I'm still laughing so hard at that that I'm all teared up.

        Really, are these health professionals truly upset or is some journalist making a story? 3 hours of games is a huge reduction for most kids, let alone ones that would go to this camp. And they've got at least 8 hours for other activities...beavers beware!

        • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          I'm not really sure who modeed that informative but I'm still laughing over that. But we do get some strange types that travel here, and actually think some of that.

          Probably a bit of both, BC being BC it's pretty close to having the same social policies as California.

      • by alexo ( 9335 )

        We go hunting the national pest, it's called [...] They who shit on everything.

        We're allowed to hunt government officials?
        Damn... Where do I get my license?

  • by assemblyronin ( 1719578 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @06:32PM (#32050776)

    The camp organizers say it is 'a good social opportunity for some kids who didn't fit into other programs.'

    Back in High School we had a really cool teacher that let us setup a LAN with 5 computers in his classroom; We mostly played Quake and Warcraft II. It even expanded to the point that we had one guy running a D&D campaign, others would bring their MTG cards, and one guy was messing around with building robots. Point being, a good bulk of the guys that showed up were guys that weren't getting any meaningful peer interaction otherwise, because the other clubs and activities weren't up their alley . Gaming would happen, yes, but since there were only 5 computers a lot of socialization happened as well.

  • If it was 3 hours a day of Wii Fit?
  • Parents are more than capable of handling this decision on their own. These days people trying to eek out a living and doing something beyond the norm to set themselves apart don't need bad publicity because some think-tank believes that these types of things are too much for parents to think about. This doesn't need to controlled or mandated.
  • These kids should be in a field smoking weed, not inside playing those damn computer games!

  • Spend the whole summer in your house, being utterly ignored by your parents 'cause let's face it, they don't want you around 24/7, locked up in your room either playing single player games, internet games with strangers or watching tv?

    This camp sounds like a great idea to do what you like with your friends or, even better, socializing with new people who share your same interests. So why are these "experts" against it? Health, they say? The 3-hour dose seems much healthier than the 8hr the kids will get at

    • Hey, I'm 30... perhaps if some adults started taking the initiative, it wouldn't be uncommon. See you next camp opening! :P

  • I had assumed that at these "camps" children might engage in a couple 2 hour sessions a day, but for the most part they would be encouraged to interact in other ways.

    I mean, when you go to a camp for any topic, you spend most of your time on things vaguely or not at all associated with that topic.

    They could have kids play a sports game on the computer then play it for real and compare, or kids that like role playing might re-enact some of it outdoors (Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt!)

    If they actually allow k

    • Bah, I went to space camp a couple of times and we didn't do sports. It was all about learning and experimenting. Quite fun, but no sports. Is that such a bad thing?

      However, if I had kids, I wouldn't send them to a gaming camp. I'd want them to be challenged and learn some cool skills about science, nature, arts, or whatever they like. That video game camp could be good if they try to create a game or a mod on their own though.

  • It is not a video game camp if they spend the vast majority of their time doing things not related to video games.
    3 hours is only a small percentage of the waking day, so IMHO this camp sounds like a normal balanced summer camp.

    But seriously, 3 hours of video gaming and they are getting criticized with health concerns?
    How many hours a day do these kids have to be engaged in physical activity?
    If you take a 24 hour day and remove 3 hours for video games, 3 hours for eating, and 9 for sleeping then that leaves

    • 3 hours is only a small percentage of the waking day, so IMHO this camp sounds like a normal balanced summer camp.

      Some camps are more intense. I once came across a daily schedule for a girls gymnastics camp, and it read like something from Army basic training. Workouts from 0700 to 1700. A good riding camp will have kids in the saddle five hours a day. Camps for competitive sports are so intense they're scary.

      • That's because north america puts such a brutally large importance on competitive sports that many kids are sadly taught that if they don't become a professional athlete, they've failed their parents. After all, every parent wants to retire once their kid scores that 4-million-a-year contract. The system is horribly broken.

        Personally, I say athletes should have their salaries capped (after bonuses or any other possible way to get the money) at 150k a year. And that's for the highest-end athletes.


  • yet, we put maybe more than half of the people in front of screens to work 8 hours a day sitting on a desk, yet, somehow it is alright to do so.
    • Yeah, but we're adults, so the natural inclination of corporations is to use us like the expendable batteries that we are. Force every hint of productivity out of us, then discard us when we're broken and no longer of use.

  • Playing video games sounds a hell of a lot more fun than making those little plastic key chain rope things we made when I was a kid. And three hours a day isn't much at all if they're spending the rest of the day, you know, hiking and sailing and such.

    I have this suspicion these "kid health experts" don't actually know that much about children.

  • When I was in 7th grade or something, I went to a "math camp" at a small state college in another town. It was basically a bunch of nerds hanging around. During the day, we took a few classes that touched on topics like architecture and design. Then in the evening, we went and played sports and ran around or had little shows or watched a movie together, whatever. The point being that it wasn't completely inactive, and I'm willing to bet that a camp based around getting people together to be social proba
  • The article would be better discussed if it went into detail. But for the most part it has been shown time and again that there is a vast list of skills being developed when kids play video games. I actually encourage my kids to play video games, but not in excess. There are always pros and cons in everything. I could say the same things about hiking, boating, biking, swimming, and running (just to name a few). But hey lets forget that you can break your leg hiking, you can drown boating or swimming, you ca
  • by Dracil ( 732975 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @08:57PM (#32052296)

    If the point is social opportunity, then these provide a good social opportunity that does not require sitting in front of a screen. It arguably also requires a bit more thinking than the average video game. I'm of course, talking about games like Puerto Rico, Small World, Tigris & Euphrates, or Battlestar Galactica. Not games like Monopoly.

  • I find it incredibly unlikely that kids would go to this camp at the expense of some sort of athletic opportunity. That said, what recommends a camp where kids play games on mainstream game systems? I call that singularly uninspired. How does the "camp" aspect even improve the experience? I guess it lets you play non-networked multiplayer console games without friends...and you get to interview video game developers on a field trip ("it would be the best job in the world if only I made money, too...").
  • Sounds like the complaints are coming from people who missed the computer revolution as children and are failing to see the big picture. I went to a computer camp in the 1989 as a 10 year old, and I had a blast. There were outdoor activities mixed in as well, but I still remember how amazed I was with even the most primitive of coding. Today, I do most of my coding on PIC's, but that early exposure to computers is what sparked my interest in this career path, and led me to pursue education in that field.
  • It really wouldn't surprise me if one of the profs pushing against the creation of this camp is my landlord. She also won't let me have wifi (a fact that I was not informed of until AFTER I signed the lease, so I can still get away with it) since she's afraid her kids will get cancer and die (but she uses her cell phone all the time).
  • by billius ( 1188143 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @11:51PM (#32053434)

    are they just criticizing something they don't understand

    Okay, time to end the fake snobbery. Video games have been around for a long, long time. My dad (who will be 60 soon) owned an Atari 2600 before I or any of my siblings were born (ie he got it of his own free will). The original NES came out in the US almost 25 years ago, giving us games like the Final Fantasy series, which people spent hours and hours playing. At least *some* of the people in charge *know* what video games are, how important they are to kids and what role they play in society. However, the point of summer camp (at least as I remember it) was to give you something different. Most kids don't have the opportunity to go hiking in the woods, shoot rifles, ride horses, sail/row boats, etc at home. The point is to have a *real* adventure, the kind of experience that will stay with you for a lifetime. Spending three hours a day playing video games is a complete waste of time at summer camp as you can do the exact same thing at home. I'm sure I bitched about the rules when I was a kid (who doesn't), but I'm thankful that I was forced to "unplug" and try new things. Thanks to summer camp, I got to learn how to use woodworking tools, how to sail catamaran, how to shoot a muzzle loader and how to *properly* use a compass among other things. I'm sure at the time I would have thought it was cool if I got to play video games as well, but in retrospect I'm really glad I was "forced" to go outside and play.

    Playing Wii is not the same as learning to code at computer camp or doing cool problems at math camp. Video games at summer camp are the same as video games at home. This kind of clueless convolution rings about as hollow as the "cool adults" who talk about how "tech savvy" modern kids are because they are always texting.

  • Am I the only one who read the article title and at first thought that health experts had literally attacked a video game camp? Chubby sun blinded children cut down like wheat, PS3's and Xboxes thrown in a bonfire, etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I was thinking of this subject just this morning. Kids sitting inside and playing video games is considered bad, they need to go outside. But once they are outside, there isn't really anything for them. Sure, some people play football or similar, but they're the ones that would do so anyway. In the end, the best society has to offer seems to be spray cans for painting graffiti.

    Why is it that we (society) try to encourage these kids to go out and paint graffiti, instead of playing games?

  • I would have loved the opportunity to try out my game skills against my peers instead of having my canoe oar stolen by some arse hole of a kid canoeing up the river. Health isn't just physical, it's social health too and as others have pointed out, 3 hrs of video games a day leaves plenty of time to socialise.

  • As I understand the issue the problem with screen time is twofold. You are sitting still and thus are not exercising and burning calories, building muscle, and hopefully playing well with others. Second, many kids (and adults) couple that still time with eating. Video games require you to use your hands so they are actually less likely to include overeating. Therefore if the camp included some physical activity and the gaming wasn't accompanied by copious amounts of snacks, there is no problem, precisely th

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.