OPINION, Uncategorized

Are video games addictive?

Video games are, by definition,  electronic games played on a video screen (normally a television, a built-in screen when played on a handheld machine, or a computer).They usually amount to solving a quest, conquering the world, being the last man standing or something similar. They have become something that is being incorporated into daily life. It is now, apparently, considered totally normal for children to spend hours upon hours with their eyes glued to a screen.  This was, of course, not a problem in earlier generations. So why is it now?

Well, of course, there is the fact that the Internet is now easily accessible and, through it, countless games, pictures, websites, etc. The temptation seems to be too great for a modern-day child to resist. Then, there is the fact that some parents are allowing their children almost unlimited access to a computer. Surely these are contributing factors to the widespread use of video games nowadays?

 

What is addiction?

One would reason that one’s child is addicted to video games if they are spending an inordinate amount of time playing them. However, Professor Murat Yucel, a clinical neuropsychologist, who specialises in addiction, disagrees. He claims that ‘It’s not just a matter of time spent on a game, there are psychological aspects where someone is dependent on it, they´re not enjoying it anymore, they´re just doing it for the sake of doing it.’

A parent who was interviewed claims her child, Riley (11), is ‘definitely addicted’. She says that she has observed a definite change in his behaviour. He has, apparently, become aggressive and ‘can’t live’ without Fortnite (a video game that is very popular at present). He no longer spends more time than necessary outside, preferring to spend it inside. She therefore reasons he is addicted. So, despite the fact Fortnite is 12+, an eleven-year-old is depending on it to enjoy himself.

As we heard in the session with a psychologist before the autumn break, the video game’s high intensity and the small victories experienced during the game result in dopamine being released. This chemical, dopamine, creates the feeling of pleasure. However, after becoming accustomed to a certain level of dopamine, the brain demands more. Then, the cycle becomes more and more demanding and, after a while, one abandons all other pursuits, with the aim of focusing on this game. If, according to the psychologist, this is the case, you are addicted.

To go back to the case of the eleven-year-old boy, Riley, we see that these ‘symptoms’ are, in fact, present. His mother says, ‘since Fortnite’s been around, there’s been no skateboarding, no scooter, he just loves to be in that room all hours’. So, there you have it. Fortnite is the cause of this anti-social behaviour. If we were to believe the psychologist’s take on events, we would classify this behaviour as addiction and we could, therefore, say that Fortnite is addictive.

The next question, though, is: is this an isolated case? If it were, perhaps we could dismiss this proof. However, a psychologist interviewed rules that option out. This psychologist, Brad Marshall, runs an Internet Addiction Clinic for children in Sydney, Australia, and he says, ‘We’re seeing about 60-70 % of the kids coming through the door  reporting that Fortnite is their primary game of use’.

If an internet addiction clinic helping children deal with their addiction to Fortnite is reporting this, can there really be much room for doubt?

How can one treat/prevent addiction to video games?

First of all, there are many different methods that can be used in terms of preventing addiction to video games, from placing reasonable time limits around Internet/ video game usage to banning video game use altogether. The method used depends on each individual parent.

To treat addiction to video games, there are, again, many methods. A drastic action could be to send one’s addicted child to a psychologist. One could also use it as a bargaining chip, as in the child must complete chores/homework before being allowed to play video games. For this method to work, however, one should ensure that the child does not do the work or the chore hastily but takes time with it and does it carefully.

One could also take away, say, ten minutes from the total time the child is allowed to play a video game every time the child misbehaves or becomes aggressive. I would personally remove the video game entirely, as then addiction can’t increase in intensity and, over time, the addiction should stop, in a way.

The government could also do something, such as shutting down the platforms on which video games are played for the main part of each day, meaning that  video game players could only play for two to three hours each day.

To conclude, children all around the world are becoming addicted to video games such as Fortnite, and, according to statistics, quite a significant number of them. This is ruining children’s lives (and, perhaps, some adults’). Whether they are addicted to Fortnite or any other video game, they are still addicted to video games, meaning we answer the question at the centre of this essay – are video games addictive?

The answer? A resounding YES!!!

Caoimhe Hayes, S2en

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OPINION, SCIENCE, Uncategorized

Los Simpson y las matemáticas

Emma Sánchez Calatayud S6 ES

Los Simpson y las matemáticas es un libro publicado en noviembre de 2013 y escrito por Simon Singh, autor más conocido por su libro escrito previamente El Enigma de Fermat.  El libro nos describe el universo matemático de la serie de animación Los Simpson. En la serie se hacen continuas referencias a las ciencias básicas así como también a personajes científicos de renombre; esto se debe a que parte de sus guionistas son licenciados y doctorados en matemáticas, física e informática.

El libro no solo habla de Los Simpson sino también hace una mención a Futurama, otra serie escrita y producida por algunos miembros de la producción de Los Simpson, (a la que Singh dedica los últimos cuatro capítulos). El libro me ha ayudado a descubrir un universo matemático en Springfield, (ciudad en la que reside la familia de los Simpson y en las que se lleva a cabo la mayor parte de los capítulos), que desconocía en gran parte. El libro está bien escrito y su lectura es ágil, aunque hay un capítulo sobre béisbol que debido a mi ignorancia hacia ese deporte se me hizo un poco pesado de leer. El autor hace referencias a los nerds y geeks en múltiples capítulos. En los cuales, además, da detalles sobre la vida de los guionistas y sus experiencias como geeks. Entre algunos guionistas de la primera temporada, por ejemplo, se encuentran incluidos dos nerds, Mike Reiss y Al Jean, (ambos son matemáticos que estudiaron en la Universidad de Harvard), el autor nos cuenta cómo terminaron siendo los guionistas del primer capítulo del libro y que apenas un par de años más tarde se convirtieron en productores ejecutivos de la serie.

Muchos de los guiños matemáticos que Matt Groening ofrece son instantáneos y discretos, por eso son difíciles de ver y de interpretar sobre todo si no se está enterado de esos temas. Así que el libro de Singh está dedicado a desenterrar y explicar algunos de esos términos.

En la primera escena del primer capítulo, por ejemplo, que se titula Bart, el genio, Maggie la hija más pequeña de la familia Simpson construye la frase “EMCSQU” con una torre de cubos que contienen letras. Esa expresión corresponde a una de las ecuaciones matemáticas más famosas que tiene la ciencia, E=m·c² (SQU=squared, lo que en inglés quiere decir “al cuadrado”).

En el último capítulo se habla sobre el episodio El prisionero de Benda de Futurama, en ese episodio aparece una pizarra en la que el personaje Sweet escribe la demostración de un teorema sobre grupos de permutaciones, el cual es necesario para resolver la trama y que cada personaje vuelva a su cuerpo original. El teorema que se presenta es dicha pizarra fue demostrado por unos de los guionistas (además de matemático) de la serie, Ken Keeler, se presentó como parte del guión. Después de eso Keeler no publicó ningún artículo al respecto.

Los Simpson y las matemáticas es un libro que recomiendo a todos que lean, sobre todo, si son amantes de las matemáticas o de los Simpson o si quieren adentrarse dentro de las matemáticas como disciplina de manera entretenida y amena. Además incluye chistes y anécdotas divertidas con explicaciones detalladas para aquellas personas que no posean un nivel elevado de matemáticas.

Preguntas como, ¿Por qué en el episodio Marge, Homer y el deporte en pareja aparecen en la pantalla del estadio los números 8191, 8128 y 8208? ¿Es infinito más que infinito más infinito, o infinito elevado a infinito? ¿Qué pasó cuando Warren Buffet trató de engañar a Bill Gates con unos dados no transitivos? ¿De qué iba el primer artículo científico de Bill Gates, publicado en Discrete Mathematics? ¿Qué son los números vampiro, los perfectos y los números narcisistas? ¿De dónde viene el término Google? ¿Son los números primos infinitos realmente? ¿Cuál es la “conjetura del espantapájaros” que aparece al final del episodio El mago de Oz, la cual Homer recita al final? Estas y muchas otras preguntas están contestadas en el libro. ¿Te lo vas a perder?

INFORMATION, OPINION, Uncategorized

Interview with a graduate from the European School of Alicante

cataMy sister Catalina Schlienger (19) attended the European School of Alicante until 2017 and was brave enough to say goodbye to the sunny weather and sandy beaches to live in Maastricht (Netherlands).

Are you happy with the decision you’ve made moving to Maastricht?

Yes, I am. I don’t know if I would have been happier somewhere else, so I can’t really compare it but I’m glad that I ended up in Maastricht.

Why did you actually decide to study in Maastricht? 

I really liked the international vibe of the town and the huge number of courses that my faculty has to offer. I needed something that would constantly catch my attention, and I have found this at the University College Maastricht. I had also applied to Trinity College Dublin but my maths grade wasn’t sufficient enough. In the end, I’m very happy I didn’t get accepted because I love Maastricht too much.

What are you studying right now?

The course that I am doing is called “Liberal Arts and Sciences” and within that I am studying “Social Sciences”. It takes (if everything goes well, of course) three years and by the end I’ll have a “Bachelor of Arts”.

If you could turn back time, would you choose different subjects for Year 6/7?

I don’t regret the choices that I made back then, because even though they might not have been ideal, I still learned something from it. But now, in hindsight, I would have probably continued with Spanish and maybe even History 4 (Ms Dodds would be proud…), instead of taking Physics 4, which in the end I dropped out of in my last year. Also, maybe I should have taken Maths 3 instead of Maths 5, but I don’t know if that’s just me being lazy…

Do you miss school sometimes?

I actually do at times. Looking back now, there were so many things that you don’t appreciate enough. School was also easy in a weird kind of way, while university is so much more complex at times. School is very guided compared to university and I always knew my way around, who to ask when having questions, what to expect,…

What kind of difference is there between living alone and at home? And what are the good things about it?

Obviously the freedom that comes with living by yourself is great. You’re very free to decide what to do with your money, and no one is really there to tell you how or when to do things. With that freedom also comes a lot of responsibility, which in my opinion is the main difference: there are far more things that I have to do (apart from university work), which, if I am honest, I underestimated a bit.

Was it easy for you to settle down in Maastricht? Such as social life?

Maastricht is a great student city, not too big, not too small and there’s always an event going on somewhere (sometimes even too many). So, in that respect it was very easy to settle down. My faculty is also rather small, and I felt welcomed from the beginning and found it pretty easy to integrate.

Looking back, do you think the school you’ve been at is a good school?

I’m very glad that I got to experience the European School system, especially the way I got taught and I definitely feel very privileged to have been at a school where they put so much emphasis on languages and the way they teach them. The international aspect and being able to take part in so many extra-curricular activities is also something that I always appreciated a lot. So yes, I would say I was at a “good” school, for what I needed and wanted to get out of secondary education.

Is there anything you really miss about your hometown which you have to do without in Maastricht?

This sounds a bit cliché, but the CLIMATE AND THE FOOD. Life is just so much easier when it’s warm and the sun is shining (although Maastricht is very beautiful on a cold sunny winter day) and the freshness and taste of Spanish food is just something that I haven’t found anywhere else… Also, I never appreciated enough how cheap Alicante is.

Is there anything you could advise other S6 or S7 students, so they don’t make the same mistakes you might have made?

I feel like I’m not really able to tell them what they should or shouldn’t do or choose, but they should definitely pursue their interests. Whatever they end up doing, they should ask themselves if they can see themselves doing this for the next three or four years and enjoying it of course. And don’t stress or feel pressured (I know that’s easier said than done) and really try to figure out what you want. And if everything goes wrong, do not worry: there’s always a plan B and C and D.