Literature Synthesis for Applying Research
Impacts of playing video games on learning in children
Dr. Janette Hill
March 29, 2006
Myoungjin Yang Tollett
Department of Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
It has been fascinating for me to watch my 6-year old nephew playing video games since he was three. Many family members have expressed their concerns regarding the number of hours he spends playing video games, about consequences related to his social and behavioral development, and so forth. Thus far, we see no negative influence in his social and behavioral outcomes. According to his mother, he learns Bible stories by playing video games, and he has even learned how to read through a video game. His mother who is a high school teacher is a strong believer in using computer or video games for children in learning. She also stated that more educationally structured computer or video games are needed for young children. Ironically, the video games that taught my nephew how to read were not considered “educational” games. I have another nephew with severe learning disabilities, Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) being one of them. The only thing that keeps him focused and stable for more than 30 minutes is playing computer or video games. His caregiver has tried different games to engage him with learning. Regardless of the caregiver’s strong belief in using games for him to learn simple arithmetic, he has not made significant progress yet on learning basic mathematics. Nonetheless, the caregiver insists that it is because there are not many computer and video games that are designed for children like my nephew with severe learning disabilities regardless of whether or not the games are educational. It is commonly known that the average attention span in young children or children with learning disabilities is very limited. Considering that, it is amazing to watch my nephews intensively playing video games for hours at a time. According to EDIT 6900 – Literature Synthesis Myoungjin Yang Tollett 1
VanDeventer & White (2002), an average child (not an advanced video game player) may spend from 50 to 300 hours annually playing video games and that by the age of 10, a child may have had thousands of hours of experience with video games. It is no surprise that the video game market grew in annual sales from $100 million in 1985 to $4 billion in 1990 (Emes, 1997) and $7 billion in 2005, more than doubling sales within the software industry since 1996 (Entertainment Software Association, 2006). Today, it is obvious that children spend a lot of time playing video games and their parents spend a lot of resources providing their children or even themselves with video games in America and worldwide. While it does not seem realistic to prohibit children from playing video games, researchers have attempted to answer questions for concerned parents, caregivers and educators: “Are video games harmful to our children?” (Emes, 1997, p.409), “Do children who play video games learn better than peers who do not?” (Din & Calao, 2001, p.98), “Can video games be a useful tool in promoting learning within the classroom?” (Rosas et al., 2003, p.71), “What are the consequences of game play on the cognition of those who play them?” (Squire, 2004, p.34), “Can meaningful learning occur while children play video games?” and so forth. To start exploring the potential impact or implications of playing games at a young age, I informally interviewed several adult game players. They indicated that they started playing video games when they were between 8 and 10 years of age. They stated that they typically prefer playing video games with friends and acknowledged that playing games with friends is a valuable social activity. They also admitted that violent contents or other negative contents might influence young audiences in negative ways. At...
References: Beck, J., & Wade, M. (2004). Got game: How the gamer generation is reshaping
Begg, M., D. Dewhurst, and H. Macleod. (2005). Game-Informed Learning: Applying Computer Game Processes to Higher Education. Innovate 1 (6). Retrieved March 7, 2006, from http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=176.
Biggs, J. (1999). Teaching for quality learning at university. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.
Carstens, A. & Beck, J. (2005). Get Ready for the Gamer Generation. TechTrends, 49(3), 22-25.
Cesarone, B. (1998). Video Games: Research, Ratings, Recommendations. ERIC Digest.
Curry, N. E., & Arnaud, S. H. (1995). Personality difficulties in preschool children as
revealed through play themes and styles
Dickey, M. D. (2005). Engaging By Design: How Engagement Strategies in Popular Computer and Video Games Can Inform Instructional Design. Educational Technology Research and Development, 53(2), 67-83.
Emes, C. (1997). Is Mr Pac Man Eating Our Children? A Review of the Effect of Video
Games on Children
Entertainment Software Association. (2006). Top 10 Industry Facts.
Retrieved March 3, 2006, from http://www.theesa.com/facts/top_10_facts.php.
Fortis-Diaz, E. (1998). Just Who Are These “Bad Guys” Anyway? An Attempt at Redirecting Children 's Aggressive Play. Early Childhood Education Journal, 25(4), 233-237.
Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy
Gee, J. P. (2005). What would a state of the art instructional video game look like?. Innovate 1 (6). Retrieved March 7, 2006, from http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=80
Gross, B. (2003). The impact of digital games in education. First Monday. Retrieved
March 7, 2006, from http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue8_7/xyzgros/index.html
Halverson, R. (2005). What Can K-12 School Leaders Learn from Video Games and Gaming?. Innovate 1 (6). Retrieved March 7, 2006, from
Irwin, A. R., & Gross, A. M. (1995). Cognitive tempo, violent video games, and aggressive behavior in young boys. Journal of Family Violence, 10(3), 337-350.
Kafai, Y. (1994). Electronic play worlds: Children 's construction of video games.
Kaiser Family Foundation. (2003). Zero to Six: Electronic Media in the Infants, Toddlers
and Preschoolers, Retrieved March 6, 2006, from http://www.kff.org/entmedia/entmedia030905pkg.cfm
Kaiser Family Foundation. (2005). Generation M: Media in the lives of 8-18 year olds.
EDIT 6900 – Literature Synthesis Myoungjin Yang Tollett 19
Retrieved March 6, 2006, from http://www.kff.org/entmedia/entmedia030905pkg.cfm
Kirkley, S. E. & Kirkley, J. R. (2005).Creating Next Generation Blended Learning Environments Using Mixed Reality, Video Games and Simulations. TechTrends, 49(3), 42-89.
National Center for Educational Statistics. (2003). Computer and Internet use by children
National Institute on Media and the Family. (2001). Fact sheet. Retrieved March 6, 2006,
Piaget, J. (1970). Psychology and epistemology: Towards a theory of knowledge. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Prensky, M. (2001a). Digital Native, Digital Immigrant. On the Horizon, NCB University Press, 9 (5), 1-6.
Prensky, M. (2001b). Digital Native, Digital Immigrant, Part II: Do They Really Think Differently?. On the Horizon, NCB University Press, 9 (6), 1-6.
Prensky, M. (2006). Don’t Bother Me Mom – I’m Learning!. St.Paul, MN : Paragon House.
Rieber, L. P. (1996). Seriously considering play: Designing interactive learning environments based on the blending of microworlds, simulations, and games. Educational Technology Research and Development, 44(2), 43-58.
Rieber, L. P., Smith, L., & Noah, D. (1998). The value of serious play. Educational
Technology, 38(6), 29-37.
Shard, A. (1998). On two metaphors for learning and the dangers of choosing just one.
Shaffer, D. W., Squire, K., Halverson, R. & Gee, J. P. (2005). Video Games and the
Future of Learning
Simpson, E. (2005). Evolution in the Classroom: What Teachers Need to Know about the
Video Game Generation
Squire, K., Giovanetto, L., Devane, B., & Durga, S. (2005). From Users to Designers: Building a Self-Organizing Game-Based Learning Environment. TechTrends, 49(5), 34-42, 74.
Steinkuehler, C. A. (2004b). Learning in massively multiplayer online games. In Y. Kafai,
VanDeventer, S. S., & White, J. A. (2002). Expert behavior in children 's video game play. Simulation & Gaming, 33(1), 28-48.
Woodward, E. H., & Gridina, N. (2000). Media in the home: The fifth annual survey of parents and children. Retrieved March 6, 2006, from http://www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/05_media_developing_child/mediasurvey/survey7.pdf.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document