We’ve all heard it before: Children and teens who play video games cut themselves off from the world. They become anti-social. They ignore homework. And most debatably, they become hostile and act out in violent ways if they are continually exposed to violent video games.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg thinks differently. At a town hall Q&A session last week at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, Zuckerberg said playing a lot of video games while growing up pushed him into experimenting with technology. He also said that those who have similar childhoods might make them better programmers later in life, which is exactly what happened to him.
Zuckerberg stated that he started pursuing experiments in technology because he was exposed to video games when he was young. He said:
“I made a lot of games for myself, and they were terrible. But this was how I got into programming.”
Zuckerberg urged parents to allow their kids to play video games, saying:
“I hear a lot that parents are concerned about their kids playing games, and there are valid concerns … But I do think that if you’re a parent and you don’t let your children use technology, but also want them … to be open to [a career in programming], then I actually think giving people the opportunity to play around with different stuff is one of the best things you can do.”
Zuckerberg ended his argument by saying:
“I definitely would not have gotten into programming if I hadn’t played games as a kid.”
Zuckerberg, whose favorite video game is “Civilization,” suggested that those individuals who played video games and who come from under-represented segments around the world could come to comprise a more diverse population of programmers and computer engineers. Right now those positions are predominantly held by white males.
Everybody, Zuckerberg believes, should have the chance to experiment. He elaborated:
“We as a society need to get to a point where everyone has the same opportunity and the same ability to be playing with technology and experimenting with different things, because that’s how you eventually get into engineering. You learn and you mess around with things and design some things. Most of the engineers I know, who are the best engineers, are self-taught, it’s not because they took some classes.”
You can watch the hour-long Q&A session here.