3rd grade Utah test: Video games are healthy

A teacher sent in this third grade test question which students in Utah will be tested on. The question comes from Pearson and is not a SAGE test question but regular pencil and paper. Although I enjoy an occasional video game with my children, and I agree with some of what is written in the article about some of the positives, I find this inappropriate because video games certainly do desensitize children and can addict them. I also find the 2 questions below the text offensive in that the correct answers are video games are healthy and what people say about video games is false. This is just completely inappropriate for 3rd graders. People who don’t think reading something on a test is indoctrinating should realize that for all of my childhood and teen years, I thought porcupines could shoot their quills because of something I read on a 2nd grade test. Nobody corrected my thinking after the test and it stuck with me because I thought it was pretty cool and never wanted to be around a porcupine. It took years for a simple suggestion to be corrected. Impressionable minds absorb content and children have a high level of trust in their teachers so when teachers say something incorrect or highly inappropriate, it sticks with children perhaps for a lifetime.

Video games are designed to offer players rewards to incentivize continued play. Without rewards, leveling up, earning things, advancing, the games don’t have the same draw to players and keep them playing. Those incentives have a science behind them to ensure players get a little reward/stimulus every so often to keep playing. The video at the bottom illustrates one boy who became addicted to World of Warcraft and had his account terminated by his mother. Don’t ever let it get that far… :)




To see stories of kids with real video game addiction problems, click here:



21 thoughts on “3rd grade Utah test: Video games are healthy”

    1. Karen, I knew that but reading your post connected a dot for me. Pearson and Gates are tied at the hip on Common Core. Perhaps they wrote this question to help prep kids specifically so Gates’ educational game division has more primed customers. I can just see these kids as more video games are introduced telling their parents, “don’t worry. Video games are healthy.”

    2. I’m for using video games to teach children. I was doing some of my learning that way 30 years ago on an Apple II series at school as well as my beloved Commodore 64 at home. Because of my computer skills, I made money typing up my fellow students hand written papers. I had the skills and resources and they did not, but I was willing to offer it for an agreeable fee. Can there be any easier example of demand and supply principle than that? Chalk one for the geek in the 80’s. I’ll admit, I grew up in a home where technology was valued and considered tools allowed to us by God to better our lives. My home was also very Latter-Day Saint, Republican, and pro-military. I still carry these values with me today.

      As to Mr. Norton’s comment about the answer to the 2nd question, it is asking what the author is trying to persuade in the reader. That is a standard question for reading comprehension. If the author was trying to persuade readers that video games are an evil to society and computers should be banned from classrooms and campuses, would you still be complaining about this?

      I think people are trying to read too much into this. To me, this also appears to be a case of people looking for conformation bias. This are the same as loony-liberals who watch MSNBC for the same reasons. As to the video at the end, I’ve seen a grown Latter-day Saint, Republican, Xerox certified technician, 50+ year old adult through the same kind of temper tantrum at work. I don’t think most Latter-Day Saint, Republican, Xerox certified technician, 50+ year old adults will do that, just as I don’t think most kids will act that way. Different people will act differently for different reasons. Stop the generalizations. Stop thinking that all 3rd graders are idiots and that susceptible. Give them credit and keep the line of communication open with your kids.

      1. I think you are missing the point completely about this concern. Doesn’t this concern you that they are saying here and “training” our children to believe that parents don’t know what’s best for their children, they do? This entire paragraph undermines the authority, intuition, and teachings of parents!!

        If you teach your child something that is important to you and you have someone come into your home and in front of your child say you don’t know what you’re talking about, most parents would find that offensive and demeaning.

        This issue isn’t really about video games, it’s about parenting and the power struggle that is existing now with the common core agenda and parents! Our children are being trained to think that they don’t need to listen to their parents, because we know better.

        The second, and less important issue is that there is NO evidence that claims that video games are healthy, entertaining yes, educational maybe, but healthy? But if you want to teach that to your children that’s your prerogative.

  1. This also creates a “captive audience” and offers no alternatives.
    Personally, I would rather associate and interact with a kid that grew up in “real life” as opposed to a “virtual” one………

  2. I’m guessing they’re assuming only mature adults are playing Halo and Battlefield. Then again, perhaps these games will teach kids early how to fight when the next revolution breaks out. Wonder if they thought about that… Then AGAIN, going along with Thomas’s comment, learning these skills in “real life” would be much more beneficial than learning them from a “virtual” perspective. Okay, maybe they did think about it…

    And I’m sorry (or not) but video games do not teach kids the same “make believe” that playing with dolls and action figures do. Video games are pre-programmed. The consequences of one’s actions and choices have already been determined. How is that “make believe?” And how does that stimulate a child’s imagination?

  3. The Gates Foundation is already a primary funder of the “next big thing” of education called “stealth assessment” or, constant assessment embedded in video games:
    Be sure to check out the important topic that needs to be “taught” to young children via this game for example:

    It says it is assessing “problem solving” but in the context of ongoing rewards for green behaviors what is really being learned?

    Dr. Valerie Shute is considered a leader in this field and her research is funded by Gates:

    I know I will be accused of not liking technology, but this is not education, this is conditioning.

    1. Alyson,
      Thanks for your link to my website Gaming and Education: Engagement in Learning. http://gamingandeducationengagementinlearning.com/.
      Stealth assessment is a very good thing, because students can be learning, having fun, having their learning assessed, and have “their lesson” adapted to them all at the same time. It is a win, win, win, win!
      Games can constantly adjust to the keep the learner in the zone of proximal development while they play. No teacher can adjust this quickly to every learner in every moment (I was a teacher – I know.) This adaptive assessment is one reason why educational games and embedded stealth assessment are so powerful.

    1. I have seen others like it, and I’ve seen some kids in person who were addicted, not to this stage but it’s totally believable to me. There are counselors who deal with video game addiction in kids.

  4. “…kids are learning a valuable lesson: not to give up.” They can’t give up…they’re addicted.

  5. What I got out of this reading was that it was trying to put a wedge between the children and their parents. Another authority figure, their teacher, has told them positive things about video games, but their parents only talk about the negative things. Their parents are not available during the reading to rebut. The message is that their parents are close-minded on video games, so maybe they are close-minded on other topics as well.

    1. I completely agree. As Mr. Norton pointed out, it is easy to sway a young, impressionable mind.

      I have no problem with video games — as an outlet. My husband sometimes wants to just unwind and will play a quest-type video game for an hour or two every once in awhile. I do not, however, agree that they are a good substitute for imaginative play, where a child holds an object in their hands and makes-believe with it.

      I absolutely believe that much of the English curriculum through Common Core is manipulative, persuasive, and conditioning our children to believe a certain way. Again, it is easy for curriculum to do this when a person in authority presents the material to a young child.

    2. The the bit about 3rd Grade Utah Test: Video games are healthy–this is pitting the kids against parents who are trying to parent. The whole thing is full of untruths and offers no factual proof other then to state what it wants kids to believe. The thing that jumped out most to me was that “gaming allows young people to explore their values. Young people who are aware of their values are more prepared for life in the real world.”

      Those two statements are loaded.

  6. Pam, The video looks suspect to me too. A bucket of ice water would probably redirect this kids energy followed by a confiscation of the controller and a job or he wouldn’t eat. Get a grip kid. When I was a kid, I would have only pulled that stunt once. My parents were pretty direct when it came to self control. EDB

  7. It’s not just kids that get addicted and need counseling. Many young people are affected in jobs, marriages and their new young families. I’ve witnessed more than one marriage and that has ended and boys putting off their missions because of video game addiction.

    As far as this test question, I see many problems. First, it pits 8 year olds against their parents if parents set boundaries on video games and have different rules and value systems.

    Secondly, it talks about dolls and action figures as being of the ‘past’ and gives the idea to 8 yr olds that they shouldn’t play these imaginative games anymore, but fill their time with video games instead because it’s “healthy”.

    Third, I’ve researched enough about Bill Gate’s future method of teaching through video games to know where this is going. Besides obvious huge profits for anyone involved and the addiction related to constant gaming, games allow the test giver to measure many more variables having to do with behavior, attitudes and skills, some things you might not necessarily want state and federal agencies to be tracking. Ender’s Game is a good sci-fi (but realistic) example of how a young boy was given a video game to measure his emotional and behavioral characteristics along with his skills and abilities. This is the future.

    Fourth, kids who start thinking that video games are a better learning tool than books and personal interaction with people and toys will begin to lose many important skills of reading good literature, having face to face contact with people and a number of inherent problems with gaming too much. It is a fact that many LDS missionaries are struggling because they don’t know how to interact with people face to face and suffer withdrawals.

    Fifth, thoughts and behaviors can easily be changed and manipulated by makers of video games, especially if children are exposed to them all day at school and then at home. Sexual addictions, violence issues, short attention spans, increased need for danger, excitement and virtual world scenarios where they don’t learn real life lessons of the consequences of violently killing others, crashing cars, doing dangerous tricks are just some examples. Not reading from proven classics that carry on traditional values from stories of the past will be an increasing problem as video games are more fun and exciting.

    Remember, this test is being given in Utah to 3rd grade children. What else are they teaching our kids without parents knowing? My 2nd grader was told that George Washington was not a Christian by 3 separate teachers before I pulled her out to homeschool. She would not believe me when I dictated inspirational quotes to her from his writings. She said, “But mom! How could he have said ANY of these things? He wasn’t even Christian!” After I got over the shock, it took me over an hour and many original documents to counteract something that she had learned at school. It was months later and because of a simple assignment that I found out. Otherwise, she would have kept this in her head and added to it with other teachers telling her similar things.

  8. I learned that porcupines shot quills by watching the Veggie Tales movie, “Jonah.” From “Beauty and the Beast” and “Frozen” I learned that the fastest way to mobilize a lynch mob against a monster is to claim that the children are threatened.

    There are many reasons to dislike common core. This isn’t one of them.

  9. Some video games sre harmless, but less be honest some are aimed at those with addictive personalities. Those are the dangerous games. If not addictive then it feeds someother pleasure part of brain, which feeds a need. These companies are there to make money they don’t care if it does induce a seizure in a child that may never had had them. There are ones called petit mals. Unless you are watching your child 100% of the time while they are playing and all of a sudden for 5 sec or more there is no response while your child is playing like the child spaced for a moment when this is not normal petit mal. So yes some are harmful!

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