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Research 1: The Educational Benefits of Videogaming

In the article The Educational Benefits of Videogames by Mark Griffiths, one of the pro-videogame attributes he lists is “Videogames may help adolescents regress to child-hood play (because of the ability to suspend reality in videogame playing)” (Griffiths 2). This is actually more important than one might first suspect. In a show called Brain Games on the Natural Geographic channel, the human brain is analyzed through entertaining experiments. In one experiment, adults were shown an abstract picture like a circle with a line above and below it, for example, and were asked to give possibilities as to what it could be. The adults only came up with one or two possibilities and then drew a blank. However, when the same experiment was presented to children, they came up with a plethora of answers and never were really stumped. This shows that adults have been trained to have exact simple answers and do not think out of the box whereas the mind of a child is unfiltered and creative. So in prodding adolescents to think like children, videogames actually boost creative thinking which is an essential asset in almost any field of post grade school study.

Griffiths also lists several disadvantages to the use of videogames for educational purposes. These include “Videogame technology has rapidly changed across time. Therefore, videogames are constantly being upgraded which makes it hard to evaluate educational impact across studies” and  “Videogame experience and practice may enhance a participant’s performance on particular games, which may skew results” (Griffiths 2). While these are valid points, they are not too much of a concern. For the first one, just because videogames would be implemented in education does not mean they have to be the state-of-the-art, crisp graphic utilizing super games you see on the market. Of course, they must be up to date enough to be stimulating for children who have access to the better games, but that does not mean updating the curriculum every year. It would not be too difficult to set a five or ten year update cycle. This would also keep educational videogame designers in business. As for the second negative result, it may not be that negative in the first place. If something is truly educational, what is the harm in becoming skilled at a particular game from hours of practice? For example, say there is a game that teaches children multiplication. It begins very basic and progressively becomes harder and faster. If it is a well designed game, kids will enjoy playing it while they are learning and play it over and over again. After a while, they will be masters at one of the most essential math skills. Good luck trying to get my brother to practice multiplication tables as much as he plays Grand Theft Auto.

He goes on to describe other uses of videogames in the areas of special needs children. He stated that kids with severe mental retardation and social inadequacies responded very positively to educational videogames. It helped them feel like more of a kid; it gave them something to talk about with other children, confidence in themselves and enthusiasm about further treatment. This is exceptional seeing as children in special needs classes often feel left out and detached from the rest of their peers.

 

Griffiths, Mark. “The educational benefits of videogames.” Education and Health 20.3 (2002): 47-51.
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