You know that times have changed when the American Psychological Association (APA), far from shunning gaming for kids, actually recommends it. Gaming has, indeed, come a long way from its inception, when the media ‘went wild’ pointing out its addictive potential without first researching its benefits. The APA released the results of its research as far back as 2013. They found that video games actually boost kids’ social skills, health, and ability to learn. In the end, gaming is a task-based activity with goals, roles, and techniques to learn. Thanks to the burgeoning popularity of online gaming, it is also an important means through which modern-day kids and adults socialize and find meaningful connections they can, and often do pursue in real life.
Gamers Hone Social Skills
The APA’s research showed that players aren’t the lonely ‘nerds’ the media often portrays them to be. On the contrary, over 70% of gamers play with friends and millions of people across the globe take part in games like World of Warcraft, Minecraft, or Farmville, together. Some games, like Fire Emblem, are played by two players using a Nintendo WiFi connection. Others comprise multiplayer activities that can be played by various people at once or in teams. Moreover, these games encourage the acceptance of diversity in terms of character type and personality. The characters in Fire Emblem, for instance, all have different strengths, skills, and special abilities. Players are encouraged to respect and see all characters as special, as they would their classmates or friends. Gaming encourages kids to work together to meet common goals but also to accept people from a wide array of racial, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds.
Gaming Can Help Players Predict Others’ Actions
Scientists from the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT) discovered that playing computer games can ‘sync’ players’ emotional responses and unify their brain activity. In the same way that people who talk face-to-face begin to imitate each other’s gestures and body language, this useful ‘social mimicry’ also occurs when gamers are playing with others. In the HIIT study, gamers played a game called Hedgewards, in which they controlled a team of hedgehogs in a battle against another team. The scientists measured players’ facial muscle reactions as well as their brainwaves. They found that players showed similar emotions and brainwaves at similar times during the game. The more competitive the game got, the more similar players’ emotions were. The researchers concluded that feeling others’ emotions could be particularly useful because it enabled one to anticipate the actions of someone else. It also enabled players to feel closer even though they were competing against each other.
Computer Games and Educational Success
Research undertaken in 2022 at the University of Cologne showed that future teachers see computer games as having major educational potential. Because children enjoy gaming, incorporating some of their favorite games’ features into classroom learning can help boost motivation and focus. Younger generations of teachers, who themselves have grown up playing a bevy of games, feel more confident about bringing games into the classroom. Logically, they also have the experience it takes to choose specific games that can make the most difference when it comes to teaching key subjects and skills.
Numerous studies have shown that games can benefit kids in various ways. Gaming can hone their social skills and boost their learning in a host of subjects. In fact, it can be a useful tool in classrooms, helping teachers impart their lessons in a more dynamic, entertaining way.