Computer Game Focused Learning: Benefits and Risks

kid playing computer games

Kids these days learned more from audiovisual materials than from printed books. [Image credit]

The older generations of parents viewed computer games as nothing more than a distraction from learning and a waste of time for their children. However, as numerous studies have been carried out from the first days of computer gaming, more and more parents learned that these activities actually present several benefits for the development of their children. In fact, several educational gaming platforms have emerged and the results of implementing them within the classroom education were extremely positive.

Of course, a child who spends most of his time playing computer games that have nothing to do with education shouldn’t expect to experience any improvement of his learning capabilities or decision making skills, for instance. Let’s elaborate.

The digital classroom

For children in general, but particularly for the younger ones, the absorption of information relies heavily on their focus and engagement. Since nowadays almost every kid owns a state of the art smartphone, tablet or gaming console, it is only natural that appealing to them implies utilizing the same type of technology. All across the US, smart boards and tablets are becoming mandatory additions for the classroom, especially in enrichment programs and private schools. We will discuss the enrichment learning programs in a moment, but let’s first discuss the direct effects of integrating educational video games in the lesson plan.

The digital arsenal and the brain development

Let’s take the example of ST Math, which is essentially a software utility designed to teach the children the concepts of this science with the aid of a virtual penguin. After implementing the Spatial Temporal Math game, a middle school from the state of Nevada reported the average math scores for their children increased by approximately 14%. As mentioned, this is just an example and there are many other games with great learning potential. In addition to teaching actual concepts like math, languages, history, science, etc., the effects of gaming include:

  • Faster and better reasoning skills
  • Improved decision making skills
  • Finding creative solutions to problems
  • Enhanced visual-spatial aptitudes
  • Superior hand-eye coordination
  • Multitasking capabilities

At the same time, for young children it seems that letter-recognition and letter-sound association games represent excellent ways of promoting literacy.

[Read also: Top 3 Math Apps for iPhone or iPad]

The downside of gaming

The actual danger associated with the activity of gaming evidently comes from abuse. In other words, studies showed that children who spend most of their free time playing educational games on school nights are prone to a downgrade of learning performance. Therefore, in order to obtain the positive effects, moderation is key. Furthermore, excessive exposure to violent and antisocial behaviors found in some video games has a negative influence on the personality of the child, even more so at a younger age.

Enrichment programs

As promised, let’s find out a bit about the enrichment learning programs and what they stand for. These courses adopt a relatively different teaching methodology compared to the standard approach of the public schools and work on the concept that every child is able of achieving performance if his talents/interests are determined and nurtured correctly. Employing the latest technologies like educational gaming platforms as well as proven teaching methods, enrichment programs constitute the best way to boost your child’s skills and aptitudes.

[Recommended read: Advantages of Computer Games over Outdoor Games]

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