Friday, April 8, 2011


It happens every year-- the sixth grade gets swept up in a silly social game called ZAP. The rules, as far as I can tell, involve one person writing the name of someone of the opposite sex on another person's palm along with ZAP on the top of the hand. The person who has been zapped has to guess whose name is on their palm within a set time or they will have to ask that named person "out", and the same is true if they look at the name before they guess correctly.

So far at our school we have never banned the game outright. The adults in the building, if they are aware of it at all, look the other way unless it becomes disruptive, and it always fades away after a few weeks, anyway. Besides the distraction that ZAP creates, however, I have a few other objections. First, what does that even mean to ask someone out in sixth grade? Second, everyone knows that the asking isn't sincere, so what's the point? Third, what if the other person says yes? And finally, there have been too many times I've seen somebody show the name on their palm to somebody else only for the response to be, "Ewwwwwww!" and a giggle. That's just mean, and I never hesitate to say so.

The popularity of ZAP is not really so surprising, though. When you think about why the kids would like such a dumb activity, it becomes clear that it allows these young adolescents to experiment with social roles and risks within the structure of a game. It's a safe way for them to practice for the emotionally perilous times ahead.

(Read a student's view on ZAP here.)

1 comment:

  1. Count me as in the dark, I've never heard of this game.