Should the teacher be replaced with an X-box console?!

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 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 March 2013.




11 thoughts on “Should the teacher be replaced with an X-box console?!

  1. Some studies have focused on how brain regions of people who play such scary and violent games,René Weber used 13 participants who played game frequently and asked them to play a violent game while undergoing (fMRI) brain scans.11 The violence in the game was not continuous, so researchers coded the game one bit at a time. Brian activity before, during and after while a violent encounter happened, they found that just before this event the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex was activated (area for control and planning). So planning its exercised while playing scary games, but why do these games seem so popular?

    Well research showed that people that play non-violent games generally stick to non-violent games and vice versa, so I don’t think it’s the game gripping people to play just its their preference.
    There are also more physical benefits to gaming:

    Most of the medical field uses simulations to help train in being doctors, surgeons and clinical psychologists, some of these games (simulations) would contain huge amounts of blood and gore but and still used with great success in education.

    Mechanics of game play require gamers to aid particular motor skills, which may also transfer to related real-life situations. Social context of the game has its effects on the brain and learning. Some games require cooperation and teamwork for success. There seem to be many benefits to playing scary games, well that’s just my opinion anyway.

    R. Weber, U. Ritterfeld, and K. Mathiak, “Does Playing Violent Video Games Induce Aggression? Empirical Evidence of a Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study,” Media Psychology 8, no. 1 (2006): 39–60

    B. D. Bartholow, B. J. Bushman, and M. A. Sestir, “Chronic Violent Video Game Exposure and Desensitization to Violence: Behavioral and Event-Related Brain Potential Data,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 42, no. 4 (2006): 532–539

    J. C. Rosser Jr., P. J. Lynch, L. Cuddihy, D. A. Gentile, J. Klonsky, and R. Merrell, “The Impact of Video Games on Training Surgeons in the 21st Century,” Archives of Surgery 142, no. 2 (2007): 181–186

  2. Although as mentioned playing video games has been found to have cognitive benefits (Przybylski, Ryan & Rigby, 2009) they do prevent other forms of learning.

    Research suggest that during their early years children who engage in free play with other children show increased cognitive, physical, social and emotional development (Ginsburg, 2007). By playing video games this is prevented because usually video game playing is an activity that occurs on your own and involves sitting still for a prelonged period of time. Hence diminishing the levels of physical and social development in children in particular.

    Furthermore looking at the list of most popular video games they are mostly structured and formulaic i.e. You must follow a certain set of instructions to access the next level. So by engaging in these games children may lose aspects of creativity as they are rewarded for doing exactly what the game suggests and not thinking independently.

  3. Hi I found your blog very interesting and I do agree with you that x- box should be used to enhance learning. A reason I believe this is according to Prensky (2003) by the age of 21 young people will have spent more than 10,000 hours playing video games. X box kinect can be used to enhance learning as Hsu (2011) arguing that kinect technology has the potential to enhance classroom interaction, increase in classroom participation, improve teachers ability to present and manipulate multimodal materials and create opportunities for interaction and discussion.

    Prensky , M. (2003) Digital game based learning. Exploring the digital generation. Education Technology, US Department of Education.

  4. Your blog raised some valid points and I agree with the notion that violent video games can have hugely detrimental effects on a child’s behaviour and education, but that pro-social and education video games can have vast benefits. However, I would be extremely wary about their application in educational settings.
    You noted that violent video games can promote violent behaviour in children, a stance that I strongly agree with. In addition to the research that you found supporting this argument, Anderson (2004) conducted a meta-analysis on the somewhat abundant literature in this area. He found that the exposure to video games displaying violent and graphic content are significantly linked to increases in aggressive cognition and behaviour and decreases in helping behaviour. Additionally, he noted that there are studies that show a much weaker effect size, which some have used to question whether there is a truly notable influence, but that these studies are often methodologically weak and therefore dramatically underestimate the magnitude of the influence.
    However, Wiegman and van Schie (1998) reported that there was no relationship between aggressive video gaming and subsequent aggressive behaviour in children, but that there was a significant negative relationship between these games and prosocial behaviour.
    Clearly, in spite of some mixed findings, the majority of the research suggests that violent video games can have a detrimental effect on behaviour. But how does this impact in a classroom setting and in learning?
    McEvoy and Welker (2000) found that children who demonstrated antisocial behaviour were more likely to suffer academic failure than their well-behaved peers. Indeed, further evidence comes from research by Roe and Muijs (1998) who found that children who engaged in computer games were likely to suffer academically in comparison to their peers. Obviously there are other factors at play, with family environment playing a strong role however, the strong correlation between violent video games, antisocial behaviour, and academic failure is one that cannot be ignored. So what can schools do about this problem?
    Ultimately, it is the parents and guardians responsibility to ensure that their children are not engaging in violent and aggressive gaming however, Robinson, Wilde, Navracruz, Haydel, and Varady (2001) implemented an intervention in school to investigate whether this could reduce video game playing at home. The children in the intervention school received 18 lessons over a period of six months in which time the children were taught to self-report the time spent gaming and challenged to reduce this by giving them ‘budgets’ of time for gaming for the entire family and the children in the control school received no lessons. They found that observed physical aggression, verbal aggression, peer ratings of aggression, and parental ratings of aggression decreased significantly in the intervention school. This suggests that schools could implement this strategy to reduce gaming in students and thus reduce violent behaviour and promote academic achievement.
    You also noted that although violent gaming demonstrated significant negative effects for children, educational gaming did produce some significant benefits. An additional piece of research comes from Schmidt and Vandewater (2008) who found that gaming can enhance problem-solving skills and visual spatial skills. However, they note that currently there is little evidence on how gaming can directly enhance learning and that games should be implemented and trialled to investigate this notion.
    Overall, I agree with your stance that violent video games can impact negatively on a child, both socially and academically, but that educational video games can have considerable benefits. However, there is one fundamental reason that I would be wary about implementing them as sole teaching aids – will gaming really prepare them for life after school? As much as I hate to say this, working life can be dull. I am all for making education fun, but we do need to bear in mind that we are preparing children to enter the wider world afterwards. When they leave school, will learning through gaming really give them the skills needed to excel in the workplace? Another factor is that teachers may become over reliant on this method and fail to teach the class, or that more traditional teachers may be reluctant and feel resentment towards the invasion of less personal learning. The ideal situation would probably be to have a couple hours a week whereby children can learn in this way.
    Anderson, C. A. (2004). An update on the effects of playing violent video games. Journal of Adolescence, 27(1), 133-122. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2003.10.009
    McEvoy, A., & Welker, R. (2000). Antisocial behaviour, academic failure, and school climate: A critical review. Journal of Emotional and Behavioural Disorders, 8(3), 130-140. doi: 10.1177/106342660000800301
    Robinson, T. N., Wilde, M. L., Navracruz, L. C., Haydel, K. F., & Varady, A. (2001). Effects of reducing children’s television and game use on aggressive behaviour: A randomised control trial. JAMA Paediatrics, 155(1), 17-23. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.155.1.17
    Roe, K., & Muijs, D. (1998). Children and computer games: A profile of the heavy user. European Journal of Communication, 13(2), 181-200. doi: 10.1177/0267323198013002002
    Schmidt, M. E., & Vandewater, E. A. (2008). Media and attention, cognition, and school achievement. The Future of Children, 18(1), 63-85. doi: 10.1353/foc.0.0004
    Wiegman, O., & van Schie, E. G. M. (1998). Video game playing and its relations with aggressive and prosocial behaviour. British Journal of Social Psychology, 37(3), 367-378. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8309.1998.tb01177.x

  5. A paper you might find useful is Jan G Hogle’s ‘Considering Games as Cognitive Tools: In Search of Effective “Edutainment” (1996). Although it is perhaps heading towards outdated bearing in mind the speed of the development of games, some interesting points are raised. Possible benefits of gaming in education include stimulating motivation and interest, improving retention, effects of practice and feedback and improving higher order skills, a wide range of benefits that relate to education. In relation to your blog, although I agree that violent video games are not the ones to be looking into as educational tools, this paper outlines how other, purpose built games may be useful.

  6. There seems to be more research into the effects of violent TV on aggressive behaviour (Andison, 1977), however Silvern and Williamson (1987) found that video games and TV have the same effects on behaviour, so it appears that research into the effects of TV on behaviour can be applied to video games as well. But there is research which also suggests that although an increase in violent TV results in an increase in aggressive behaviour, it may actually be that the children who choose to watch violent TV may have aggressive tendencies to start with, and this is what makes them choose to watch violent TV which then results in aggressive behaviour (Gunter et al, 2002). Research has also found this to be true for video games – children who choose to play violent video games are the ones who demonstrate more aggressive behaviour (Wiegman & van Schie, 1998) With regards to using video games in schools for positive outcomes; Robinson, Newby and Ganzell (1981) found that rewarding children for completing their work by allowing them to play on a video game helped with teaching the children to read (they spent more time working, because the video game was a reward they wanted). I found that most research into media influences on behaviour tend to be focused on antisocial/aggressive behaviour, rather than prosocial. However, I did find a study which found that TV can influence prosocial behaviour if the messages in the programme (such as tolerance and friendship) are discussed with an adult (Fogel, 2007). This suggests that, if media is to be used in schools as a way of aiding learning, violence should be avoided, and if schools want to encourage the prosocial messages in the media, they should discuss them with students.

  7. This is a great blog, you have provided a great insight into Headsprout (the topic of my dissertation) yet, it is important to consider the difficulties that some individuals may face when attempting to utilise CBI (Azevedo, Guthrie, & Seibert, 2004; Moos & Azevado, 2009), Moos and Azevedo (2009) report that although computer-based learning environments (CBLEs) such as Headsprout, are becoming more prevalent in the classroom, empirical research has demonstrated that some students have difficulty learning with these environments. Especially, those who do not have previous experience with computers as home (Moos & Azevado, 2009).

  8. You raise some excellent points about technology and aggression. As I was researching this I found some interesting information about pornography and aggression, forgive me for going off topic but if you were stuck for ideas there is a lot of interesting material out there. Obviously violent video games are having negative effects on youths but what about pornography, there is a lot of disturbing material out there. Zillman and Bryant (1982) found that men became more callous in their dealings with women when they were exposed to such materials for an extended period. Furthermore research carried out by Donnerstein (1982) concluded that men who are exposed to pornography will become more aggressive towards women (It should be noted that the material was pornographic rather than simply erotic).

  9. woops I pressed post before I was ready, anyway to sum up I feel from the evidence presented from various blogs that we are simply better off without the internet and technology!

  10. As I started reading this blog, I thought I would have the belief that video games are bad in education. However, this changed. When thinking about video games, I automatically thought about violent games that I see people playing on their Xbox and Play stations. Towards the end of your blog you mentioned that games can be used in education; this makes so much sense. Children find games on new technology fun! If we would go into a school today and ask them to choose between a standard board game and a high-tech game on the computer, it’s pretty obvious which one they’d choose; the high-tech game.

    Griffiths (2002) reported that video games in education are really not that bad! He noted many advantages for their use;

    • Can be applied as research or measurement tools- this will then broaden the research carried out in education
    • Students want to participate fully at any age, gender and educational status.
    • Reinforcement is provided through games
    • Individuals can set personal goals and maintain behaviour changes
    • Due to enjoyment of the games, it provides a different way of learning

    After researching into the use of video games, it now makes sense why more and more schools are applying these to educational settings. However, I do believe that the relationship between student and teacher (away from the technology) is still as important!

  11. Hiya,

    I commented on this particular blog last week and after commenting it was awaiting moderation, however it isn’t in your comments, i was just wondering if you moderated it at all? Because obviously this may have affected my grade from last week. I spoke about research that found video games could be beneficial to education, as well as the use of the wii console in schools. i also included a few youtube clips to support what i said…. Cheers, Becky

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