How Video Games Help Kids in School

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Get off that game already! a phrase that I have heard in my home many times for my endless hours of gaming with friends from around the globe. We all know that the negative view of video gaming has increased over the years. One does not hear often of the benefits that gaming for hours has on a student’s learning. Whereas individuals feel that playing video games is bad, gaming has its benefits as it helps students with cognitive, social, emotional and non-cognitive skill development. So many individuals in all professions believe that gaming is just a source of entertainment that can become addictive to children and does not promote any type of intellectual play. However, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin by the name of David Williamson Shaffer argues that by stating that playing video games can improve cognitive skills (Boulanger, Amy). According to a review of research on the positive effects of video game play published by the American Psychological Association, it was found that violent shooter games boost children’s learning, health and social skills. It also stated that the more children games, such as role playing games, they more they improved in developing problem-solving skills (American Psychological Association). Gaming works on the skill of short and long-term memory by having a player know the rules of the game in addition to mastering the keys on the keyboard to allow for quick maneuvering of moves (Eugenio, Sheila). In addition, Shaffer states that the playing of games helps kids work with problem-solving skills by requiring a player to search, negotiate, and plan approaches to allow them to advance to a higher level of play (Boulanger, Amy). James Gee an education professor at the University of Wisconsin states that if used properly, video and computer games have the ability to inspire learning. He states that games take numerous hours of intense concentration to complete levels this builds on attention span. In addition, he states that even children with a diagnosis of ADHD who cannot sit still in a classroom setting can spend numerous hours concentrating on the game at hand. (Sohn, Emily) Where many parents like mine feel that the playing of video games is an isolating activity. However, gaming actually can help students in the area of social and emotional development. I personally have made many friends through gaming. Cheryl K. Olson, a professor of child development from Massachusetts General Hospital conducted a study where she found that the playing of video games creates a common ground for students to make friends (Olson Sc.D., Cheryl). In recent studies, it was found that only 20 percent of gamers play alone. In many games, players work together as a team to achieve a goal, compete against others or both. Due to being on a team with others, this puts them in a situation where they must communicate with each other to complete the level at hand. This in turn, promotes social development, which with good social skills a student is more likely to have a high self-esteem, good peer relationships and achieve in school. In addition, they will also be more likely to have a successful marriage and career (Loo, Kara). In evaluating the emotional benefits of video games lead to the study of emotion regulation. A study in 2011 showed that simple games such as Angry Birds, can improve a players mood, promote relaxation and ward off anxiety (American Psychological Association). In addition to positive emotions that are beneficial to a student playing video games were those of frustration, anger, anxiety, and sadness (Granic, Isabela, et al). Another area where gamers benefit is that of leadership and motivation. When gamers play in groups, they are taking turns leading and following, depending on who has specific skills needed in a particular game. Nick Yee of the Palo Alto Research Center showed through his studies that teens who gamed in groups online felt they had gained leadership skills such as persuading and motivating others and mediating any disputes among each other (Olson Sc.D., Cheryl). Lastly, gaming has the ability to improve non-cognitive skills for students including patience, discipline, and empathy; these are skills that are not taught in a classroom anywhere. Gamers learn patience and discipline in games by making a choice of not abandoning the game when they are faced with negative performance during play (Marklin, Brittany) Learning to have empathy is extremely important but also difficult. Researchers at UC Berkeley found empathy and compassion are a cornerstone of a happy, meaningful life in addition to building blocks of morality and reduce prejudice and racism (Loo, Kara). Some games allow a player to grapple with sensitive issues in an environment free from social pressure or fear of any consequences. Then when a student is in a similar situation in the real world, they find it easier to figure it out and make excellent choices (Loo, Kara). The act of playing video games is not all bad; gaming has its benefits as it helps students with cognitive, social, emotional and non-cognitive skill development. For those students that are gamers the numerous hours of gaming offers many benefits that are very beneficial not only in school but in life in general. Gaming has been proven to aid in the development of building memory and problem-solving skills; it teaches leadership, motivation, patience, discipline, and empathy. The most important for me and many others is the opportunity to develop socialization skills; which can lead to long-lasting friendships. The best relationship that I have now is the result of numerous hours of playing video games and that is the awesome relationship I have with my older brother whom I game with ofen even though he is in the next room.

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