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Today, in the United States, 91% of children between the ages of 2 and 17 play video games (NPD Group, 2011). It is unavoidable, video games are apart of children of this generation, but also increasing in popularity and surpassing traditional entertainment. Video games brought in over $25 billion in 2010 in the United States alone, “more than doubling Hollywood’s 2010 box office sales of $10.8 billion in the United States and Canada.” (Motion Picture Association of America).
There are many studies and research proving children benefit from video game play. Video games benefit children by improving mental development by strengthening cognitive development, like improving memory and problem solving skills. Video games are also beneficial to children because they provide teachers with an opportunity to engage students in the classroom multi platform technology while also addressing autism and providing a calming outlet for children on the spectrum.
The studies reviewed in the American Pyscologcal association article on the benefits of playing video games and how they strengthens cognitive skills, like memory, reasoning and problem solving. According to this APA press release article; ‘2013 meta-analysis found that playing shooter video games improved a player’s capacity to think about objects in three dimensions, just as well as academic courses to enhance these same skills, according to the study. (www.apa.org)“This has critical implications for education and career development, as previous research has established the power of spatial skills for achievement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” (Granic,L. I., Lobel, A., & Engels, R.C.M.E. 2014) This enhanced thinking was not found with playing other types of video games, such as puzzles or role-playing games.’ (Nauert, R. 2018)
Spacial skills are just an example of the benefit video games with children and learning. Engagement is important to retaining the lessons learned in class. Studies have shown that when children were not engaged in learning, especially in mathematics; they faced major challenges.(Williams & Ivey, 2001) Engaging children is one of the most important tasks for a teacher. There is research that shows hows students are more likely to engage in online games than to interact with other students or the instructor when in face-to-face learning environments. (Murray, M., Laird, S. & Bor, S. 2006 ) Video games along with multi platform technology help teachers encourage engagement in the classroom. From PC to Xbox, Playstation, to Ipad and Ipods, video games are easily accessible as they are offered on more than one platform. These multi platform technologies combined with educational video games help shift the way teachers and students approach education. They allow educators to redesign the classroom experience, bringing together online engagement and interaction with the teacher. (Nauert, R. 2018) Multiple platforms of technology and gaming may be among the most efficient and effective means by which children and youth generate positive feelings. (O’Brien, & Parks)Providing more than just learning engagement, but also provide positive calming experience in the classroom.
Equally important, children on the autism spectrum benefit from the calming experience video games offer. Often, children on the autism spectrum experience difficulty with transitioning, and emotional regulation. Teachers and therapists often use video games to exercise problem solving flexibility and to help address these difficulties. (Smith, H., n.d) Video games put power into the hands of the player allowing them to have control over their environment and providing a calming escape from the difficulties with emotional regulation. Not only are video games calming for children on the spectrum, but they teach problem solving skills and resilience in the face of failure.
It can be said that video games are a bad influence for children because of social isolation and promotion of violence. It is said that the exposure to violence from video games desensitizes children and is responsible for teaching aggressive problem solving and increasing rates of bullying in school. In 2007, 32% of students aged 12-18 reported being bullied at school, compared to 5% in 1999.(Dinkes, R., Kemp, J., Baum, K., & Snyder, T.D.) Several studies have been conducted and found that children with high exposure to violence in media display lower moral reasoning skills and lowered empathy.
In contrast, there is research that proves playing video games have positive effect on kindness and social behaviors. In 2013 a study was published and explained; ‘Three experiments failed to find a detrimental effect of violent video games on prosocial behavior [positive actions taken to benefit others], despite using contemporary and classic games, delayed and immediate test-phases, and short and long exposures.’ (Ferguson, C.J., Garza, A. 2011). Additionally, A non gamer can observe a child and claim the player is isolating due to the observed solo interaction of play and are not relating to what the child or gamer is experiencing due to the face that they are not included. Consequentially, this data could be more of bias or subjective perspective, not an objective truth. The the child who is gaming is actually fully engaged and playing with multiple friends. Children communicate with each other, share strategies or findings in school, or other social settings. With the aid of a microphone and headset they can even communicate with each other while playing the games live connecting just in innovative ways. “More than 70 percent of gamers play with a friend and millions of people worldwide participate in massive virtual worlds through video games such as “Farmville” and “World of Warcraft,” Multiplayer games become virtual social communities, where decisions need to be made quickly about whom to trust or reject and how to lead a group, promoting social interaction and ecouraging friendships. “ (Nauert, R. 2018)As you can see, video games are a form of social engagement for children because they use gaming as a topic of conversation and to mutually connect.
In short, video games benefit children for many reasons, they help improve cognitive skills; like problem solving. Video games and multi platform technology offer teachers the ability to redesign how they educate and help engage children to learn the classroom. Furthermore, video games help address children on the autism spectrum by providing a calming escape, sense of control and teach them flexible problem solving skills. Children benift from video games and its important that they are offered on multiple platforms, for example; PC’s, gaming consoles, tablets and cellphones. Video games have become a part of everyday culture in childrens lives, and will continue to grow as gaming platform technology advances. It is clear, children benefit from video games in many beneficial ways and as a result of supporting these benefits, children are provided a springboard for innovation while simultaneously providing an outlet for play and decompression.
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