Technology has entered human’s life quite recently, but has already occupied an important role in it. Technology enables people to improve living standards and give more opportunities for further development. Apart from this technology is also excessively used for entertainment purposes. Thus, children spend a lot of time playing video games instead of learning or even playing with peers in playgrounds.
This evokes many disputes about the negative impact of video games on the development of children. However, nowadays researchers have come to the opposite conclusion and claim that video games can and do develop children’s learning skills and improve their academic performance. At this point it is necessary to stress that not only educational video games produce positive effects but all kind of games can be beneficial for development learning abilities in children (Bavelier et al., 2010, p.696).
In fact, some scholars state that educational games are too formal and do not contain the number of effective factors as developed environment, visual effects, entertaining component, etc. Numerous surveys has proven that wise use of such technological tools as video games motivates children to study and develops their cognitive skills. It is necessary to point out that the use of technology can be fruitful for teenagers and pre-school children.
Researchers state that video games develop various skills which are useful for children’s learning among which are attention, memory, motor control and cognition. Of course, it is essential to balance the use of technology in children’s life since video games abuse can lead to negative consequences, but it is necessary to note that any kind of abuse is harmful. Thus, balanced use of video games in children’s life does enhance their learning abilities.
In the first place, it is necessary to point out that the use of video games during classes motivates children greatly. Thus, Ting Seng Eng (2005) claims that students are interested in such kind of activity and become concentrated while fulfilling their tasks, and this inevitably contributes to their academic performance improvement (645). It goes without saying that students are attracted by the entertaining part of video games.
According to Gentile (2005) children find video games “highly motivating; by virtue of their interactive nature, children are actively engaged with them; they provide repeated practice; and they include rewards for skillful play” (10). Thus, students are encouraged to play a game and learn the necessary material at the same time. On top of that, children perceive and memorize information better which is proved by numerous researches.
For instance, recent surveys reported that the introduction of educational video games into mathematic classes at high school resulted in “significant benefits on benchmark mathematics tests” (Bavelier et al., 2010, p.697). By all means, the use of video games is fruitful for children at early age. For example, pre-school children will play a video game learning some material rather than listen to it from their teacher.
It is necessary to stress that while conducting some tasks of a video game children have an opportunity not only learn some new material but use it in different virtual situations. Of course, video games cannot substitute all other classroom activities but they do motivate children to train their skills and obtain more knowledge to fulfill different tasks.
Apart from mere motivating function the use of video games contributes to the development of children’s cognition activity. Thus, Bavelier et al. (2010) stress that video games enhance children’s ability to “learn to learn” (697). Li and Atkins (2004) also reported about the improved cognition skills in children who played video games as compared to those who did not play such games (1721). Interestingly, this fruitful effect is not produced by some particular educational games, but video games in general.
In fact, any video game develops cognition skills since children have to accommodate to new factors and environments while playing. They gain new experiences and try to learn from their mistakes. Of course, these experiences are virtual, however, the skills of accommodation and learning is likely to be transferred to the real life situations. Thus, children learn how to take into account their previous experience and respond rapidly to new conditions.
By all, means these skills are extremely useful not only for education but other spheres of life as well. Besides, the use of technology in adult life is inevitable, so children who are, so to speak, acquainted with technology will be more prepared for tasks they will face in future.
Many researchers used to warn people that video games can cause the lack of attention during classes and decrease ability to concentrate on more important tasks. However, now many surveys prove that the use of video games contributes to the development of attention in children. Playing games makes children be more attentive since to fulfill the task they should mind every detail.
By all means, children want to win and this makes them be very attentive. These skills (attention and concentration) are of great importance for study. Students become more attentive and more precise while completing their academic tasks.
Of course, this does not mean that children remember that details count in video games and understand that they should be precise while fulfilling other tasks. However, playing games children train their ability to concentrate, so they subconsciously become attentive and concentrated on particular academic assignments.
As Bavelier et al. (2010) reports children who play video games “show significantly increased attentional skills as compared with those who do not” and, furthermore, “some measures of attention, such as the temporal dynamics of attention” in children at age from seven to ten years old “function at adult levels, indicating significant deviations from age-related norms”(697).
It is necessary to add that Bavellier et al. studied the impact of action games, so these data also prove that playing video games contributes to the development of useful skills (attentional) which improve academic performance.
Reportedly, video games have positive impact on the development of memory in children (Ting Seng Eng, 2005). It is quite obvious that children should memorize some information while playing video games.
They keep in mind passwords, possible action patterns, and many other data. Thus, it is a good training of memory. Bavelier et al. (2010) claim that children “also exhibit better visual short-term memory” (696). Besides, the necessity to memorize some information while playing video games makes children work out successful patterns of information storage.
Every child tries to remember this or that piece of information and again subconsciously find the necessary way to memorize the necessary amount of data for the necessary period of time. Of course, such skills are extremely important during their study.
It is also important to point out that video games contribute to the development of motor control skills. For instance, Gentile (2005) provides an example when “playing a golf video game improved college students’ actual control of force when putting, even though the video game gave no bodily feedback on actual putting movement or force” (10). Of course, at early age the improvement are also observed. Interestingly, Bavelier et al. (2010) report that
In 2009, the Royal Air Force stopped requiring that only trained pilots control unmanned drone flight missions and opened its door to less experienced young gamers, after studies indicated that the best drone pilots were often young video game players. (697)
In fact, improved motor control in game players is easily explained by their precise movements during a video game. It is necessary to add that apart from driving video games, any other video game can contribute to the development of motor control skills.
Of course, some researchers argue that video games cause such negative effects as “obesity, video-induced seizures, and postural, muscular and skeletal disorders, such as tendonitis, nerve compression, and carpal tunnel syndrome” (Gentile, 2005, p.10). However, all these negative effects are possible only in case of video games abuse.
Admittedly, any activity (even the most useful and healthy like sport activities and learning) can lead to the development of various disorders when it is abused.
Nevertheless, the threat of video games abuse can be easily diminished by parents and teachers. It goes without saying that parents should restrict the time for playing games. Teachers should also be very attentive while using such technology during classes.
They should remember that video games should be supplementary and cannot substitute other activities. Apart from video games abuse Gentile (2005) articulates one more concern about video games, i.e. the development of aggressive behavior since many video games contain a lot of violence (10). This can and should be also controlled by parents.
They should be aware of the content of video games their children play. Moreover, parents should play active and decisive role in the choice of such games. In this case, video games will be beneficial for children since they will develop their memory, attention, motor control and cognition skills without producing any negative effect on them.
In conclusion, it is possible to point out that many researchers study the impact of video games on children’s academic performance. Some scientists provide evidence of negative effect of video games but at closer look it become clear that these effects are produced not by technology use itself but by the abuse of technology.
On the contrary, nowadays numerous researchers prove that playing video games (educational as well as other types of video games) in most cases positively influence children’s academic performance.
Thus, video games help children to train their memory, attention, concentration, motor control and cognition. Apart from this video games contribute to the development of students’ motivation. Such findings are very valuable for educators since they can use this knowledge and start using technology during classes more effectively.
Moreover, educational video games producers can also take into account the latest researches in the field and make their products more effective. Thus, the evidence of video games positive impact on learning skills in children gives people more opportunities to develop new teaching techniques and find more ways for motivating children to gain knowledge.
Bavelier, D., Green, C.S., Dye, M.W.G. (2010). Children, Wired: For Better and for Worse. Neuron 2010, 67(5), 692-701.
Gentile, D. A. (2005). The Effects of Video Games on Children: What Parents Need to Know. Pediatrics for Parents, 21(6), 10-11.
Li, X., Atkins, M.S. (2004). Early Childhood Computer Experience and Cognitive and Motor Development. Pediatrics, 113, 1715-1722.
Ting Seng Eng. (2005). The Impact of ICT on Learning: A Review of Research. International Education Journal, 6(5), 635-650.