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Video Games

Discover how some videos and video games can be beneficial to children.

Video games can be fun educational tools. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Video games can be fun educational tools.

Despite what parents might think, researchers have found that, just as with some television programs and educational videos, video games can be educational skill-builders.

TechNewsWorld reports that a growing number of educators see video games as educational tools, although few schools incorporate them into their curriculum, in part due to gender and generational gaps in gaming. However, a body of research now suggests that some nonviolent video games can be learning tools. Since video game customers are typically school-aged children, some educators believe that video games can be used to capture the interests of students in the classroom.

Educational Video Game Skills

The Federation of American Scientists found that video games train students in skills that are sought after by employers, such as strategic and analytic thinking, problem solving, planning and execution, decision-making and adapting to rapid change.

Video games offer clear goals and give players a chance to practice lessons until they master them. Video games personalize learning and reward patience. In short, the federation found that video games could be effective educational tools. However, the organization felt that more research into how to best design and use gaming systems to facilitate learning was needed.
According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, international studies found that simulation and adventure games, such as The Sims and Rollercoaster Tycoon, improved students' strategic thinking and planning capabilities. In those video games, players build new societies or theme parks. The researchers stressed that, "arcade, shoot the baddie," video games did not produce the same results.

Educational video games can also improve the following skills:

  • They encourage motivational behaviors, as many games reward players who move to subsequently higher levels.
  • They teach students to find patterns and interpret data. Essentially, they can improve critical-thinking skills.

Types of Educational Video Games

Many educational video games are available for standard personal computers. Some feature characters that are familiar to children, such as Winnie the Pooh and Dora the Explorer.
Some examples of educational video games include:

  • Restaurant Empire, which simulates running a restaurant.
  • Making History, a game in which students role-play as historical figures who must make challenging decisions.
  • The Algebots, a game that teaches students algebra.
  • Brain Age and Brain Age 2, which train the mind in multiple activities.
  • Zoo Tycoon, a simulation and building game.
  • Civilization, a historical civilization-building game.
  • For younger children, Leapfrog gaming systems can improve learning.

Arcademic Skill Builders offers a series of free educational video games such as Word Frog and Alien Addition.

Roadblocks to Using Video Games in School

While some educators contend that video games may be of use in school, TechNewsWorld points out that there are still some major obstacles standing in the way of their use. Some teachers who are unfamiliar with gaming may not support the use of video games in their classrooms. Obtaining funding and training teachers are major roadblocks.

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