As I have decided to discuss the use of technology in classrooms, this week I am going to consider the effects that video games have on children’s education. Could the use of video games actually improve a child’s education and cognitive development? Or are the critics correct in stating that they can be extremely dangerous and excessive play should by all means be avoided?
The impact of video games has caused enormous controversy amongst professionals and members of the general public especially when it comes to children and young adults. In 2004 a 17 year old boy from Leicester was charged with the murder of a 14 year old boy by mimicking a violent killing that was used to score points in a video game called ‘Manhunt’. The victim’s mother called for a ban on all violent video games however a spokesman for the publishing company for ‘Manhunt’ said that they refused to take any responsibility for any association between the murder and the game because the game was classified 18 by the British Board of Film Classification therefore it should not have been in the hands of a juvenile (BBC News). Although the murderer’s actions can not be justified it is hard for me not to point a finger and see that the video game undoubtedly had an impact on his deed that day.
Furthermore hundreds of video game and video player studies have demonstrated possible links to problems such as addiction, aggression, social development, violence and a variety of stereotyping and sexual morality issues. Kirsh (2003) found that violent video games influence aggressive behaviour whereas Anderson & Bushman (2001) found that violent video games increase aggressive behaviour in children and young adults, exposure to violent video games increases physiological arousal and aggression-related thoughts and feelings. They also found that playing violent video games also decreases pro-social behaviour.
However whilst I was researching the negative effects of video games I discovered a reoccurring theme – all the negative effects were associated to the violent content of the game rather than the actual participation of active play. Squire (2003) argued that the cognitive potential of video games have been largely ignored by educators and that gaming can suggest powerful new opportunities for educational media.
I have discovered that there is a drastic limitation when it comes to finding research that suggest that gaming can be beneficial in education. Personally I can’t think why it would not work – If children enjoy playing video games and parents struggle to tear their children away from their computer and their consoles then why not take advantage of this by introducing education into gaming? This could develop a positive attitude to education, children would participate in active learning and the overall learning experience would be considered enjoyable rather than more of a chore!
I hope to find that more research will be conducted in this field in time to come.
Anderson, C. A., Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior, Aggressive Cognition, Aggressive Affect, Physiological Arousal, and Prosocial Behaviour: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Scientific Literature. Psychological Science. 12(5), 353-359.
BBC News. (2004). Game blamed for hammer murder. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/leicestershire/3934277.stm on March 2013.
Kirsh, S. J. (2003). The effects of violent video games on adolescents: The overlooked influence of development. Aggression and violent behaviour. 8(4), 377-389.
Squire, K. (2003). Video Games in Education. Games & Simulation. Retrieved from http://www.skatekidsonline.com/parents_teachers/Video_games_in_education_Updated.pdfon March 2013.