This is a great site and game to use anywhere, but most likely in a Health or Physical Education setting, especially in a Driver’s Education class. The New York Times has created a game that helps you gauge your levels of distraction while you read and respond to text messages while driving.
Since this is a simulation on a computer, there are added constraints and difficulties that most students will complain is not realistic. For example, you receive a text and must respond to a question by replying to the text with the exact words used – the question is “Would you like to go out before or after lunch?” and the answer must be one of the two bold words as they appear; no “b4” since the program will not recognize that! The other complaint would be that users have to individually click each letter in a text reply as there is no auto-complete option! While we know that most people, especially our students, do not text this way the added complexity does help to re-enforce the idea that increased distraction occurs while driving and trying to multi-task in any way.
As they proceed through Gauge Your Distraction, students will have to use one hand to change lanes – the driving – and their mouse for texting. This causes them to force both hands to work simultaneously and therefore both sides of their brain! The game has no time limits in place and will end after three texts are successfully viewed and responded to. At all times the “car” will have to switch lanes, even while the text is open but the time taken to respond to the text is recorded. This is not visible to the player until the end of the game, however.
After the third text is successfully send to the game, the car will stop and the results will be recorded. Average response time, both to the text and the lane switching (“driving”) are displayed along with the user’s percent of distraction. This is compared to the scientific data recorded and links to articles and studies for further reading and research.
While Gauge Your Distraction is a game, it does promote and give students some hands on experience with texting and driving in a safe environment. Even outside of the Health classroom, this game would be a great segue into talking about multi-tasking and/or distractions in a study skills class or even a discussion in any class about concentration, time management, problem solving, or decision making.