Video games today are most commonly viewed as a way for students of high schools and colleges to slack off and procrastinate on homework and studies. What most people are not aware of though, is the social benefits that video gaming has on individuals. Video games can have positive effects on a gamers social life when it comes to teamwork, helping people, multitasking, and communicating efficiently. Educational Benefits for Students
A recent study from the Education Development Center and the U.S. Congress-supported Ready To Learn (RTL) Initiative found that a curriculum that involved digital media such as video games could improve early literacy skills when coupled with strong parental and teacher involvement. Interestingly, the study focused on young children, and 4- and 5-year-olds who participated showed increases in letter recognition, sounds association with letters, and understanding basic concepts about stories and print. The key for this study was having high-quality educational titles, along with parents and teachers who were equally invested in the subject matter. That way kids could discuss and examine the concepts that they were exposed to in the games. Also interesting is the value that video games are proven to have even for very young players. A study by the Education Department Center further found that low-income children are “better prepared for success in kindergarten when their preschool teachers incorporate educational video and games from the Ready to Learn Initiative.” Older children such as teens and tweens can benefit from gameplay as well. Even traditional games teach kids basic everyday skills, according to Ian Bogost, associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and founder of software maker Persuasive Games. “Look at ‘World of Warcraft’: You’ve got 11-year-olds who are learning to delegate responsibility, promote teamwork and steer groups of people toward a common goal.” Games that are designed to help teach are having an impact on college-age pupils as well. Following a recent 3D virtual simulation of a US/Canadian border crossing, wherein students assumed the role of guards, Loyalist College in Ontario reported that the number of successful test scores increased from 56 percent to 95 percent. Improved Multitasking
Other carefully-designed studies have also shown that action video games can improve several aspects of brain activity, including multitasking. According to studies by Daphne Bavelier, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, video gamers show real-world improvements on tests of attention, accuracy, vision and multitasking after playing certain titles. “If you think about it, the attentional and working memory demands of video games can be much greater than other tasks,” says Michael Stroud, a professor of psychology at Merrimack College. “Consider Pac-Man as an example. In Pac-Man, you must navigate your character through a spatial layout while monitoring the separate paths of four additional objects (the ghosts), while keeping the overall goal of clearing the small pellets in memory, as well as keeping track of the remaining large pellets.” “Think about how this may apply to skills such as driving,” he continues. “When you drive your car, you are faced with a constantly changing environment in the road, not to mention several other distractions that compete for attention that reside in the car. At the same time, you are attempting to navigate through the environment to reach a goal.” Social Benefits
Games with broad appeal that are easy to grasp can additionally help many families play together, and better bridge the gap between generations. Consider a title like hip-wiggling simulation Just Dance, which can have young kids dancing alongside their grandparents. There are also many games that have positive social messages that encourage families to be a force for good. In a series of experiments published in the Journal of...
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