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« Top Ten Reasons for Games in Libraries | Main | The polemicist »

So why are we so uptight about Internet gaming?

Being busy at work and busy at home preparing for workshops has left little time for blogging. Thank goodness, Adam Janowski, Library Media Specialst at Naples (FL) High School, has taken me up on a standing invitation to guest blog. Check it out below. Help Adam answer the question: So why are we so uptight about Internet gaming in our library media centers? Thanks! Doug

I have been asked to write article about Internet gaming in high school library media centers by Carol Simpson.
I had posted a query on LM_NET about the subject.
We had banned games except Chess, ostensibly as there was a Chess Club on campus, now long gone.
adampic2.jpgOur biggest violation of rules last year was on the playing of games, most innocuous, and sometimes we turned a blind eye to ESE students who had been introduced by their teachers to games on the Disney Channel.
We have never had a problem with violent or sexual games.
We have noticed that teachers who use our lab, do not police our game policy.
So why are we so uptight about Internet gaming?
A recent query on LM_NET brought about an almost resounding "NO" to games, except, perhaps, at lunch or after school.
A lot of the responses dealt with bandwidth or needs to keep computers available for research.
But we are blessed with 50+ standalone stations and an additional 15 wireless laptops that can be used anywhere in the LMC. There is no way our staff can be the Internet police.
I asked for District guidance on the issue and there is no policy. It is left up to local school administrators and the library media center staff.

We often have over 200 students in our library at lunch. I have never had a problem asking a sudent relinquish there computer if they were just browsing or reading their EMail to a student who had to complete a school project.
I think it's time to let the prohibitions against Internet gaming go.
What are your thoughts? Feel free to post this message on your blog.
Adam Janowski, Library Media Specialst
Naples High School

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Reader Comments (14)

Just thought I would add that I have asked our principal for her guidance and direction.

I also need to discuss this with my colleague once she returns from summer vacation.

The thoughts I have are my own.


August 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Janowski

I guess what I what like to add is that if there are readers who would like to give a comment to send it to

Would love to hear your thoughts!


August 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Janowski

Doug, thanks for giving Adam a chance to blog! Adam -- thank YOU for your bold words. The prohibition against gaming at my school is strongly supported by a few people who set policy, but enforcement is erratic, and of course a lot of the blame for failure to enfore it comes my way. I don't have answers for this, but I don't see a lot of harm in the gaming. Of course, as a reader myself I'd love to see all those teenage boys reading instead of playing games, but this is not the reality of life now. I consider games on library computers at the worst an "attractive nuisance," but so are any number of things the boys find and want to share. I'd love to hear others weigh in on this issue.

August 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJane L. Hyde

I'm personally completely against banning or blocking anything. The only rule I would have is that you can't do anything that disturbs your neighbors. I think being asked to forgo your computer to someone who needs to finish a school project is fine as well.

Young people need to experience the internet as it is. For some students, the computer at school is all the internet they get. If half the internet experience is blocked, they don't build a proper perspective of how the internet is evolving. It also blocks the students understanding of how the world works. For example, they won't have a proper understanding that people do make money creating video games on the internet.

Just my 2 cents. Thanks for your post!

August 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Zetterlund

I appreciate your post on gaming. My district blocks all gaming, e-mail, and Web 2.0 sites, hiding behind CIPA guidelines.Could you help me "educate" them?

August 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJoel Rainbow

Hi Adam,

You might want to look at a couple of Stephen Abrams blog postings about gaming in libraries:

I’ll add these in a reply to your post and am working on another response as well.

Thanks again!


August 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Being at a private school, it is sometimes difficult for me to allow students to play games knowing their parents are paying good money for them to be there. If the students truly do not have any academic work to do, then I typically allow games in my room (which is also considered one of the labs).
I also allow upper-class men more freedom than freshman. I assume that juniors and seniors know their work load better, and so know whether they can afford to play or not.
This semester I might allow more freedom, since we are offering an AP Computer Science class for the first time...and I wonder if more freedom doing "fun" computer activities will generate more interest in the AP class - and maybe even a robotics class in the future.

August 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKenn

From Adam on Aug 2:

Oh, how things can shift in days. Our superinendent was sacked yesterday, and today I get a message from our principal say NO to games.

No discussion. Just an ultimatim.

Such is life in a public school.


August 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

I will restrict my comment to my view on what happened at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) - a name now ubiquitous on the western world for high-quality engineering studies.

The Deans of the IITs and IIMs (where I myself studied) realised that internet access

- reduced social interaction (in person- it probably increase it online)
- meant lots of students gamed until late in the night
- downloaded movies and music instead of research data

the death of one of the students at IIT, Bombay has been inked to excessive computer use.

The IITs have proposed banning internet use between 11pm and 1 am- believing it solve some of these problems- to some extent.

I disagree. Most of the chaps who study there can probably infiltrate the institute servers. When I did my MBA several of us never got to the 8am lectures, even though there was little internet use back then

Coming back to Adam's post though, the difference between your question and this situation is twofold: a) these are adults (18+) and b) this is a residential campus.

It would differ in a day-school, but the difference may only be of degree.

I agree with a comment above on the principle that gaming should give way to academic work, and a student doing the former should give up the use of the machine to make that happen- but its probably too difficult to implement.

You can read the IIT story here


August 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterVivek

Last year I offered students math games websites, thinking that would at least improve their math skills. I found myself roaming the library during lunchtime to make sure the computers were being used properly. Of course, anyone on "game website" were the first to be kicked off if students needed the catalogue or other school-related assignments.

This year my library has been expanded physically by 50% -- there is a raised-step story area that I see as a hang-out for the magazines, etc., but I am also considering adding tables for chess, scrabble, and other board games.

I totally will not allow computer gaming during school time - and it is "low on the totem pole" during lunch -- the first to be sacrificed if other needs surface.

August 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBetty Copeland

According to our student handbook, the network is to be used for academic purposes only. All students in grades 7-12 have their own laptops, and most bring them every day. so I only have 8 computers that "belong" to the library. Everyone knows the no gaming rule, but I fail to see the difference between doing the NYT crossword puzzle (allowed) and playing Twister (not allowed). Of finding a prom dress in Seventeen (allowed) and finding one online (not allowed). I have to pick my battles, and this is a rule I choose not to enforce unless someone (or more likely a group all hanging over one computer) is causing a ruckus with the online game. I consider the largely mindless games an innocuous form of downtime for kids who are routinely pretty stressed, as long as they can maintain the quiet study environment we like.

August 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMaureen Irwin

Hi Maureen,

I have the same questions you do about why some things are permitted and others are not - primarily based on format. I am thinking is is mostly because the electronic format is not as well understood.

All the best and thanks for writing,


August 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Hi Betty,

My only question is if you allow kids to play regular chess during the school day? If so, aren't you discriminating by platform and not by activity?

Thanks for commenting. It's great to see a variety of views on this.


August 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Hi folks,

I have a follow up column here:

All the best,


March 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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