Video games can make kids better problem solvers. In fact, video games can promote thinking skills as well as improve spatial and fine motor skills. (That is, the good video games – NOT the non-violent, non-sexist, non-shoot ‘em up games which are mind numbing and detrimental, among other things!)
But, the research shows that video games develop the above mentioned skills and because they’re video games, it’s lots of fun.
According to eschool news, “Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) [says that], games, when developed correctly and used appropriately, can engage players in learning that is specifically applicable to school curriculum.”
Video Games and Learning
Some writing teachers use the game Myst to write descriptively. Teacher Tim Rylands says Myst makes writing fun for kids and he can back that up with proof. After he began using computers to help teach writing, his students improved their literacy skills tremendously.
In Marco Visscher’s article for Ode Magazine, he writes about Making History, a game about World War II. The player makes decisions on spending, trading, partners, military strategies, negotiate with others all with the help of military, diplomatic and economic advisers. Apparently, kids who played this game learned a lot about World War II.
Books are often paired with video games, drawing kids into further reading and thinking. Scholastic’s 39th Clues, for example, gives players online clues for the book, and additional background details and information.
Nick Decanter, vice president of Muzzy Lane Software says this, “What’s more important now than learning names and data are the skills to analyze that data and apply information to gain insight and make decisions . . . and games are, much more than books, extremely good at helping students learn this.”
Another interesting and new use of video game learning is video game therapy. USA Today writes about a family who uses the video games to help with their boys ADD although the research has not yet concluded if indeed this is a beneficial type of therapy.
My Two Cents
Monitor the ratings of the video game ESRB rating symbols (on the front of the box) – appropriate ratings for kids are EC = early childhood and E = everyone.
Limit the use of video games. Video games can be beneficial in conjunction with other activities like outside play, sports, social time but will most certainly be detrimental if played excessively. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids spend no more than 2 hours each day on screen time — watching TV or movies, or playing computer or video games.