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Don't Bother Me Mom -- I'm Learning! Paperback – 14 Feb 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Paragon House Publishers (14 Feb. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557788588
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557788580
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 1.7 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 383,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Don't Bother Me Mom -- I'm Learning! The POSITIVE Guide for Parents Concerned About Their Kids' Video and Computer Game Playing Full description

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mr. T. Hainey on 10 July 2006
Format: Paperback
Marc Prensky has done a wonderful job of writing this book. I feel that it is a book that should be read by every single parent on the planet if they are to have any hope of understanding why children find video games so captivating.

The book presents a highly organised case for the incorporation of video games into schools to engage children more effectively. It is a vital resource for academics interested in games-based learning and has a wealth of links to relevant literature in the field. The book is particularly relevant to people that grew up in the 1980's as they can relate to the parental distrust of video games and also benefit from the academic value.

The book is crammed with real life case studies including contributions from James Paul Gee - one of the leading experts in games-based learning and author of "What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Literacy and Learning". Very interesting features include the five levels of learning in video games with three interesting case study examples including Grand Theft Auto III: Vice City, San Andreas (a very controversial video game), the use of mobile phones as a suitable research tool, the discussion about violence in video games and the section on learning - particularly neuroplasticity.

This is a work that the Marc Prensky should be highly proud of and is highly thought provoking for parents, teachers and academics alike. The book has excellent cross referencing between chapters and has a wealth of cited literature, which is readily available on-line at the books accompanying websites. The work is delivered in a gradual, entertaining manner that is highly enjoyable to read.

Well worth the price - they should charge double for such an excellent read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Fox on 28 May 2009
Format: Paperback
Great eye opener for me as a "digital immigrant".Reading this book opened up a wealth of discussion with my"digital native" gaming 12 year old.Well worth reading.
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Format: Paperback
Unlike the books by Gee, Shaffer and others, Prensky's talks about video games from a non-academic perspective. Although this means that the book should perhaps not be given the same weight as the others, it is still enjoyable to read. Prensky is entusiastic and he has lots of interesting ideas that could be worth investigating through more elaborate studies. For instance, I liked his five level evaluation model. When playing a video game there learning happens on several levels, from developing skills, by the way of discovering strategies to the level of understanding context and meaning. I found the book highly interesting.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you're fed up of feeling like a bad parent for allowing your child to play computer games, read this book for an alternative perspective. Marc Prensky shows technological dinosaurs (digital immigrants) the benefits of gaming etc. in a changing world. This book has helped change my attitude to the children's screen time and helped me seek alternative ways of 'teaching' to motivate and engage children of the digital age.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 20 reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Advice for Digital Immigrants 23 May 2006
By Timothy Haugh - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book I feel all parents should read. Though I'm what Prensky would call a "digital immigrant," my accent isn't too thick. I may be nearing 40, but I got involved with computers as they came around and have never been afraid of technology. Gaming, Internet, etc.--I love it all. And, despite the fact my gaming time has reduced as I've gotten older, I've never really understood the hysteria over computer games.

For parents, this book is a great primer about video & computer games. It makes a case for why these games benefit children but, more importantly, it explains a lot of the gaming & computer jargon and gives examples of a lot of the popular software. If a parent really wants to make an effort to understand what interests their child about computers, this book is a great place to start. It also gives parents encouraging advice on how to connect with their children through these games.

I used to be quite a gamer myself (I leaned towards the strategy games like Civilization and Railroad Tycoon). After reading this book, I went out and bought Civilization IV (and The Sims for my wife) and rediscovered what I loved so much about them. Hopefully, when my children get to the age when they want to play computer games, I'll be able to participate with them on some level.

On the other hand, as a veteran teacher, I'm not convinced by some of his conclusions about the educational value of these games. I agree that these games are certainly not detrimental, any more than other "traditional" child pasttimes. (Any activity--reading, sports, etc.-- can be detrimental if done exclusively and to excess. As parents, it is our job to monitor all our child's activities and press them for moderation when we see them slipping into excess.) I agree that they can develop skills that are useful for children. I agree that technology & modern culture are rewiring our children's brains to be different and we must accept and deal with that (particularly teachers).

Still, I have yet to see a game that truly imparts curriculum in an effective manner. Civilization is a great game & offers great talking points to a history teacher but it cannot teach history effectively. Perhaps there will be truly dynamic games in the future that will teach curriculum well but, for all my support of technology, I see it as a tool, not as a guide. Like all tools, it can be used well or poorly but, as always, it goes back to the human hand that controls it.

But, despite these quibbles, I must give credit where credit is due: Prensky has written a very good book here. He opens our eyes to the importance of understanding these games. They are not going away and, with a little effort, both parents and educators can get a little more insight into young people today. Some of that effort should be put into reading this book.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Nails It--Secretary of Education Needs to Read This Book 27 April 2007
By Robert David STEELE Vivas - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was introduced to the author's work on Digital Natives by a very smart and unusually open-minded colleague at the National Geospatial Agency, and I am hooked as well as relieved.

The greatest complement I can give this book is that my 15-year old, a master of Warlock, saw this book come in the door and immediately took it away from me and read it overnight. He gives it high marks.

This is also the book that inspired me to take Serious Games and Games for Change *very* seriously. Most gamers do not understand the need to work toward an EarthGame that includes actual budgets and actual science, but Medard Gabel of BigPictureSmallWorld gets it, and that's enough for me.

The list of games provided at the end by the author, to create a serious game home learning environment, is priceless. Some may be overtaken by events but the bottom line is that digital learning is vastly superior to rote learning in schools.

I am a participant in three Hacker communities--Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) based in New York, Hac-Tic based in Amsterdam, and Hackers/THINK based in California. I have met thousands of hackers over the years, and I am certain that the best and the brightest are not those with straight A's in the current school system, but those that tune out the high school regime by their junior year, and start learning what they want to learn on their own. My oldest son just won first prize in the Fairfax County digital music content, representing his school, but he will not graduate because he refuses to spend time on Algebra 2. He has very high SAT scores, will pass the GED with an almost perfect score, and will take digital music and digital art courses at three colleges in the DC area as a non-degree candidate. I go on at length here because this is both very personal for me, and also a national disaster--our entire curriculum is so out of date, and taught by so many drones, the few master teachers not withstanding, that I completely understand why our national ranking in math and science is out the window, why we have fallen to 7th on the national innovation scale, behind three Nordic countries and three Asian countries.

I admire this author. In a most positive manner, he is telling us the Secretary of Education is quite naked, and what we can do about it. This is a foundation book for any parent of "digital natives."
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Good news from an expert who's got it right. 23 April 2006
By Bob Collier - Published on
Format: Paperback
"Don't Bother Me Mom - I'm Learning!" is a vital book to read if you're the least bit worried about the computer and video games your children are playing (or would like to play).

There are, however, many aspects to this book that make it much more than an enlightening and positive response to all the objections, criticisms, negative opinions and fears that surround the world of digital gaming - it's an equally important read if you want to know what's happening in the rapidly changing world of teaching and learning.

Of particular interest to me as the father of a home educated boy was the mention in the book of developments in the application of games technology to the school curriculum - including a little something called "disintermediation", or 'cutting out the middleman', a subject I've written about myself.

To be honest, I was practically bouncing up and down with excitement as I read of the possibilities for learning and self-development that are emanating from the most recent advances in video gaming technology. The potential now unfolding is absolutely thrilling.

But, even if you're not as ready as I am to share Marc Prensky's enthusiasm for computer and video games as a means of educating and preparing our children for success in the modern world, you'll discover at the very least from reading "Don't Bother Me Mom - I'm Learning!" that what you may have been reading or hearing in the media about the games melting our children's brains and turning them into violent zombies has been both highly selective and greatly exaggerated.

Something that quickly became apparent to me as I read this book was that negative opinions about computer and video games tend to come from people who don't play them! Indeed, it seems to be that many parents who are worried about the games their children are playing don't actually know what it is they're worried about.

Both of my children play computer and video games. Without restrictions of any kind.

My daughter started playing video games at the age of six. Her mother - yes, folks, her mother - bought her a Sega Master System II and all three of us ended up happily playing Alex Kidd in Miracle World for hours on end every day until we'd completed the game. Then we bought some more games and haven't looked back.

My son Pat has been playing video games since he was three. He started with Mario the fat plumber on the Nintendo 64. We still have the N64. Pat now also has a Game Cube and a Playstation 2 and plays Empire Earth and RuneScape on the PC and various mini-games he finds on the internet.

Computer and video games are the biggest passion in my son's life right now, and I think it would be most odd if I didn't know at least a little bit about every game he plays. Because I play them, too!

My own interest in video games goes back to playing Pong, Space Invaders and Asteroids in various pubs I frequented in Sydney when I lived there in the mid-1970s to mid-1980s (in my pre-parenthood days).

As Marc Prensky explains clearly and comprehensively in "Don't Bother Me Mom - I'm Learning!", "games are NOT the enemy". Games are a medium. TV is a medium. Books are a medium. Did you know that even the piano was once considered by many to be dangerous new-fangled technology?

Though it certainly does seem to me at times that there's a very questionable motive behind the making of certain individual games, of course, that really is no different to the questionable motives behind the making of certain movies or TV programs, or the writing of certain books, and so on.

So, as with movies, TV and books, it's crucially important to separate the medium from the message. To optimise the positive qualities of the medium and exercise informed choice as far as the message is concerned. Which, no surprise, requires parental involvement - something that Marc Prensky advocates throughout his book, despite what its title might suggest.

In fact, this is one of the book's great strengths. It's a book of solutions for parents. It does acknowledge the problems and it does offer thoughtful, experience-based advice on how we can develop a more positive and helpful perception of our children's love affair with computer and video games and find ways to move forward and upward together with them into a new world of opportunity and accomplishment.

Marc Prensky's knowledge and understanding of the Brave New Digital World is truly awesome and I, for one, as a fifty-something with a 10-year old "Digital Native" son, am deeply grateful to him for his positive contribution to my life.

If you have a child who plays computer and video games, I hope you'll read this book. For reassurance, if that's all you need - or for mind expanding inspiration if you're ready for it. You'll discover plenty of that in its pages.

Bob Collier
Publisher of the Parental Intelligence Newsletter
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Productive Pedagogy for Parents 25 Aug. 2006
By C. Taylor - Published on
Format: Paperback
Prensky offers a succinct and well-rounded discussion concerning the potential of computer games as learning tools. His assertion that, children are already learning from computer games - that parents and educators alike need to tap into this motivation for learning - is well supported by a wide variety of examples, from specific games to the testimony of parents and educators. The uncomplicated language makes for easy reading and the practical advice to parents is enthusiastic and practical.

The use of the work of James Paul Gee is influential in offering an academic perspective on the discussion. It would have been interesting to see connections between Prensky's work, that of Gee and yet more theorists and reserchers in the area, including, for instance, Catherine Beavis.

The supporting online material is useful in assisting parental comprehension and offers some practical guidance and steps to improving personal pedagogies in the home. The strength of Prensky's text is through the manner in which he breaks down the nature of learning across the spaces of home and school, public and private, education and entertainment. His discussion is an optimistic design for the future, which deals successfully with objections to computer games, and is founded on strong research. This results in important and useful ideas and guidelines for the future of learning.

If you are a parent of educator in particular, this book offers a practical and flexible first-step in the complex world of computer games and "digital natives". Another productive and insightful read from Prensky.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Games as a new communication medium 7 Dec. 2007
By Botturi Luca Angelo - Published on
Format: Paperback
[this review will be published on Studies in Communication Sciences 1/2008 - [...]

Many kids and teenagers spend a large amount of time with videogames - that is a fact, and calculations indicate that by the time they are 21, average US children will have logged 5'000-10'000 hours playing computer and videogames. Add to this that videogames are impacting the entertainment market more and more as a multi-billion industry and you have plenty of good reasons to want to understand them better if you are a parent or a teacher. If you are a researcher in media, communication or education, and aim at understanding today's media use of digital natives, your work should include understanding video games, and this book can provide assistance in that area. So, are videogames good or bad? Do they enhance learning or do they make children numb and lonely?
After the hit of Digital Game-based Learning (2003), Marc Prensky comes back with a book that tries to give a new perspective to the often too polarized discussion about videogames. Prensky's voice is backed both by the insights of seasoned teacher used to talk with kids of all ages, and by the experience gained as founder and CEO of, a company that offers "serious training in a game environment". It's a respected voice in the expanding context of the literature about education and digital games. Moreover, he is an emphatic speaker, with action movie rhythm, good arguments and sometimes claims. The book is worth reading: if you like videogames, you will understand them better; if you think they are dangerous, it will let you think about them more critically.
The book is mainly targeted to parents and teachers, but researchers can find interesting data, resources and ideas in it as well. Many claims are supported by anecdotal evidence, such as interviews with children or parents, only a few with scientifically sound data. This is both the limit and the power of this book: it is effective in showing that a different take on videogames is not only possible, but existing in the experience of many "like us", parents or teachers. The task of proving or refuting many of the claims remains for researchers and their respective methods.
The first point the author makes comes from the Socratic principle of knowledge: before knowing something, we must admit we don't know it. This holds for videogames too: much of the current discussion today comes from people who are not videogamers, and those who fear videogames often do not know even the titles of the big hits. Second, Prensky claims that today's kids are digital natives, while we, who were born in an age when digital media was not present of just surfacing, are digital immigrants. While we keep our "accent" (and for example print e-mails for reading), digital natives are "natural born" multitasking, online social kids. They consequently require, and like, new forms of learning, and videogames are clearly one of them. Because, and here is the third point, children learn a lot of things from videogames. On the one hand, current videogames are not all like Pong or Pac-Man, the trivial videogames that everybody knows. It's true, they are trivial, but games like Civilization III (a commercial game) or Carmen Sandiego (an educational game) are much more complex and engaging, and these are the game that today's kids want to play. With them, they learn to cooperate, reflect on ethics, start designing and programming (with modding, i.e., creating new games with existing games engines), and - claims Prensky - can even acquire the "seven habits of highly effective people" as identified by Steven Covey, including being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, first things first, etc. To support these claims the author relies also on the experience and work of James Paul Gee, who wrote What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy (2003).
Up to here the book can look like an apology of videogames - and indeed there is some merit in bringing the discussion down to the ground and proposing and discussing real arguments. But the one more step that Prensky proposes is more challenging. Part IV is entitled "How Parents, Teachers and all Adults Can Get In The Game", which means: "Leave all universal theories aside, your problem is dealing with your kids or your students." And here it is all about method.
The author indicates some simple things that parents and teachers can do to reach one important goal: living the videogame experience together with our children, not leaving them alone with the media. It could be expressed as how you can create a relational and affective frame of meaning around videogames, so that the effort and energy spent on them is turned into positive educational agency. We know from research on the effects of television how important this is - what we didn't know was how you can actually do it with videogames. Prensky does not tell us how to do it, he first does it, and then tell us how he did it. I had the pleasure of attending a keynote speech at the Association for Educational Communications and Technologies convention in October 2007. After giving the talk, Prensky had five teenagers come on the stage and spent another hour just talking with them, asking them about their experience at school, with friends, with computers. Videogames were simply a part of their life, and he was recognized as an adult with whom you can talk about these things.
The main principles for "getting in the game" are starting to learn something about videogames, and then asking real questions and listening with real interest. The point is sharing with kids what is already part of their experience and has, indeed, positive aspects in terms of learning, even in the broader sense of education. The real issue, which emerges multiple times throughout the book, is finding a balanced style of life: blending sports, school, outdoor activity, handwork and computers in a sensible way. This is where adults can really make a difference. Videogames are bad if they become the tyrant activity of a child's life, but then they are as bad as reading 6 hours a day, or regularly watching TV for that amount of time. Additional resources about this can be found on the companion web site [...]
The book is challenging in two ways: intellectually, because it pushes to reflect on videogames from a richer base of data and experiences; and emotionally, because it prompts to take actions, as parents or teachers, in order to "get in the game" with kids and make sense of that experience. Some points raised in the book deserve a critical approach. First of all, are digital natives really different persons? Do they really learn differently? Of course, their media environment is different from the one we experienced, but it is likely there is no straight line between before and after. Also, different media environment generates different learning practices - but a new way of learning? Another issue concerns the change that videogames should bring in educational institutions. Prensky goes far and envisions - more to challenge than to propose - a completely different school system. That's more vision than reason, and while teachers can surely learn from videogames (and games), we might also ask ourselves what is the good in the current school system, and try not to throw the baby out with the water. Finally, the book brings evidence that videogames can produce positive learning effects and that they are not "evil". A good question to ask then, as with any media use, is what are children not doing in order to find time for videogames? That is, videogames can bring good things, but are they better than what is left aside?
If you are interested in videogames - and if you have any kids or teenagers around you, you should be - this book can provide not only food for thought, but also a challenge to go one step further than you would normally go, as parent, teacher, or researcher.
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