By Margarita Nahapetyan
A new report released by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, states that video games have the potentially positive effects when it comes to educating children and promoting their physical well-being. According to the report, video games have all the potential to be another avenue of activity for children. Therefore, a move like this might have a good chance of providing children with education on health and exercise in a manner that they can relate to.
The report titled Game Changer: Investing in Digital Play to Advance Children's Learning and Health, provides recommendations for the educators as well as for the health care industry, media industry, government, philanthropy and academia, to harness the appeal of digital video games to improve children's health and learning. The report also urges to look beyond the stereotype of video games as harmful.
Previous studies that were analyzing the effects of video games on children have been mostly positive of the most recent ones, with a focus on safe virtual worlds, and devices such as the Nintendo Wii which offer a number of games encouraging physical activity.
Children as young as 4 years old, are being involved more and more in a new gaming culture, however many parents, caregivers, educators and health professionals are extremely worried about violent scenes, adult language and reports of addiction, and do not consider video or computer games to be anything beneficial in children's lives. Based on a synthesis of market and scientific research as well as interviews with industry and academic leaders, the report addresses all these concerns.
According to the findings, video games have been found to help kids learn vital foundational and 21st-century skills, such as:
Content, which included rich vocabulary, science and history.
Skills, such as literacy, math and complex problem-solving.
Creation of artifacts - from videos to software code.
Systems thinking, such as how changing one element affects relationships as a whole.
The survey found that well-designed digital video games demonstrated significant potential to promote children's growth and healthy development. Video games were found to foster skills and knowledge that aid kids with academic learning, as well as habits which are associated with better health.
The report concentrated especially on the vital connections that games and digital media can make in promoting children's potential. Among the promising games reviewed are Sesame Street's Color Me Hungry, featuring the Muppet Cookie Monster and Dance Dance Revolution, a mass-market game used in hundreds of schools all across the United States. These efforts are helping young children learn about nutrition, healthy habits and physical activity.
Experts in the field of digital learning interviewed for this study concluded that digital games have very strong potential. Indeed, it is not a secret that children love to play video games, but the research has not fully show with precision why or how these games work, as well as how to design them for specific learning goals.