November 18th 2012.
Parents of children who play videogames
Video games; long gone are the days of Pong, Centipede, and Space Invaders for the Atari; in place is a new era of interactive videogames that exist across a variety of consoles. Modern media focuses on the adverse effects of videogames on children; however, several studies have found that there are positive effects of playing videogames. Benefits such as enhanced vocabulary, development of motor skills, and practice in logistics are among the most prominent positive effects from videogames.
Video games can expand a child’s vocabulary by leaps and bounds. Games of the roleplaying variety are among the most prominent in this area due to the colorful language used by the characters; one may think of this type of game as interactive storybooks. Children take to the interactive stories like wildfire, if coaxed in the right direction they will pick up on new, unfamiliar words and add them to their vocabulary. In addition a new series of games have been produced in the last five years that are tailored around practical use of linguistic skills; such games are built around tutoring children how to properly use the English language in writing and in speech situations.
Vocabulary enhancement is only the first benefit of videogames, studies by Professor Paul Schrater of the University of Minnesota show that video games are correlative to the development of motor skills in children; those that play a minimum of 5 hours a day show significant increase in motor skill development. (White) An evolution in motion control technology has made an impact in the development of motor skills by giving a hands-on approach to videogames. Such innovations as the motion controllers of the Nintendo Wii and Playstation 3 and the motion tracking technology of the Kinect for the X Box 360 console are among the most recent breakthroughs in videogame technology that promote fun and physical gameplay. (Raise Smart Kids) Motion control adds a new dimension to games of the shooter variety which promote the development of the reflexes; Link’s Crossbow Training, a lesser known title for the Nintendo Wii, is a prime example of a child friendly game that focuses on accuracy and reaction time as the goal is to hit targets as they appear throughout the course.
Videogames have also been shown to build upon cognitive skills such as puzzle solving, strategizing, and remembrance. Games have been developed specifically to aide in the growth and maintenance of the brain; countless studies by the United States National Science Foundation have labeled videogames as a deterrent of age related mental problems in the elderly, starting earlier could prove beneficial to mental growth and maintenance over a lifetime. (Vieru) Puzzle solving game adaptations, such as Sudoku and jigsaw puzzles, offer potentially limitless amounts of activities to practice and maintain problem solving skills at an affordable cost. Strategy games, such as Risk and members of the “tycoon” family, help develop resource management skills and strategy development skills. Titles such as “The Sims” provide similar skill development in a more realistic situation.
For every positive there are bound to be negatives and videogames are no exception. Lack of monitoring and over-stimulation can compromise the positive effects gained from videogames. Proper adherent to the scale of game ratings is one of many methods of properly monitoring the influence videogames have on the child. Failing to adhere to logical moderation is a parental failure often blamed on the videogames despite the true culprits being uninvolved parents.
Another argument against videogames comes in the form of claims that videogames cause antisocial behaviors; this is simply not the case. Many videogames focus on teamwork with other players worldwide; this encouragement to work together can provide excellent practice for the real world. As said before, the true negatives for this aspect come from poor parental involvement; videogames should not be the scapegoat of parental failings.
The positive effects of videogames are clear; logistics and motor skills are crucial bases for the mental growth of children and further advancements in video game technology can only improve the skills learned from videogames. Linguistic skills are expanded passively by the use of interactive stories in the form of videogames. Teamwork can be a key asset for the future as cooperation is a key skill in society. As with all things, moderation should be used to maximize the benefits and minimize any negative effects of videogames.
“Raise Smart Kid.” Raise Smart Kid. Raisesmartkid.com, n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2012. <http://www.raisesmartkid.com/3-to-6-years-old/4-articles/34-the-good-and-bad-effects-of-video-games>.
Vieru, Tudor. “How Video Games Boost Memory, Thinking Skills in the Elderly.” – Softpedia. Softpedia.com, 1 July 2009. Web. 07 Nov. 2012. <http://news.softpedia.com/news/How-Video-Games-Boost-Memory-Thinking-Skills-in-the-Elderly-115486.shtml>.
In previous researches, she says, attentional demand, novelty and social interaction have been proven to be determining factors in capturing the imagination of elderly people playing them, so most likely the team will start from here. Novelty is “also be relevant, because existing research shows that novelty is a catalyst for learning,” the researcher stresses. Additionally, she states, social interaction is one of the main catalysts in keeping elderly people in tune with the game, as they tend to give more attention and effort towards solving their goal if they play with others, even as a team.
White, Robyn. “Can Video Games Improve Learning, Motor Skills?” University of Minnesota Soundbyte. The Regents of the University of Minnesota, 2007. Web. 6 Nov. 2012. <http://www.cs.umn.edu/news/SoundByte/F07/SoundbyteF07.pdf>.