The development of visual animation techniques, more recently through CGI (computer-generated imagery), has also led to the possibility of including sequences in films and games that show emotionally intense behaviour. For example, extreme violence can be portrayed in very realistic ways. Coupled with developments in computing power and the almost universal access to computers in developed nations, the growth of interactive gaming has opened up new possibilities for social interaction. Children and adults can now engage in activities that mimic those performed in the ‘real world’. They can play in imaginary worlds through the medium of the computer screen, and also engage with actual others, either in simulation games or in virtual worlds.
Engaging in simulation games can be of great educational benefit, as children are frequently asked to explore predictions and reflect on what they do and how they relate to others on screen. One example is a bridge-building game, which is designed to support children’s understanding of physics. The aim is to build a bridge across a ravine and the challenge is to get the bridge structure right. Similarly, virtual worlds can provide a range of educational opportunities. The aim of one particular cartoon-like world, directed at 8-to-12-year-olds, is to teach them about road and traffic safety.
Sonia Livingstone and Magdalena Bober (2005) conducted a survey of 1511 children and young people aged from 9 to 19, and, among other things, looked at their use of the internet. You might have judged the last activity (chat rooms) to be popular, but in Livingstone and Bober’s study, among those respondents who reported using the internet daily or weekly, only 21 per cent said they accessed the internet to use chat rooms. In fact this was the least