Many parents are suspicious of video game consoles and do not want to watch them at home for fear that they will harm their children’s school performance. However, the benefits of video games include the development of skills such as attention, creativity, memory, languages and teamwork.
Lara Croft doesn’t know it, but her legendary adventures on the PlayStation have done more for archeology than many textbooks. In addition to the protagonist of the Tomb Raider saga, there are countless video game characters who, although it may not seem like it, awaken early vocations and teach history, geography or mathematics to millions of schoolchildren and adults around the world. Who said that game consoles don’t cultivate the intellect?
THE IMPORTANCE OF VIDEO GAMES IN SOCIETY
The videogame industry today is a mature sector and admired for its technological muscle, its innovative capacity and its privileged business vision. Video games dominate audiovisual entertainment, far ahead of music and cinema. Not even Hollywood has been able to with a rival that has 2.5 billion players in the world and, specifically, hits like Fortnite with 139 million active users. The fever for this video game crosses borders and already worries a giant like Netflix more than Disney and HBO, its direct competitors in the battle to lead streaming audiovisual content.
THE KEYS TO ‘GAME-BASED LEARNING’
The benefits of video games have also reached teaching with game-based learning or learning based on electronic games. This educational method uses the good of video games to transmit knowledge to students and is based on three key points:
• Make education more dynamic:
They transform learning into a fun, exciting game without boring classes. This causes students to assimilate and retain the content almost without realizing it.
• Increase motivation:
Make students the protagonists of the story and reward their efforts with medals, extra lives, bonuses, etc. Thus they manage to capture and maintain their interest in learning.
• Facilitates practice:
They allow you to apply the acquired knowledge without creating dangerous situations. This is the role, for example, of aviation and navigation simulators.
VIDEO GAMES FOR LEARNING:
Within game-based learning there are educational video games known as serious games. This specific segment for teaching aims to train students in specific subjects, language learning or training professionals such as police, pilots, firefighters or health personnel, among others. Educational video games are a booming global market.
THE BENEFITS OF PLAYING VIDEO GAMES
The impact of videogames on society has made them an object of study. For example, Andrew Przybylski, a psychologist at the Internet Institute of the University of Oxford, published a study in the journal Pediatrics in 2014 in which he established how many hours children should spend playing video games. His conclusion was that those who played less than an hour were more emotionally stable, while those who played around of three hours they developed problems at the time of socializing. Therefore, in moderation, video games, in addition to improving learning, promote another series of benefits. Here are some of them:
They improve responsiveness
According to the University of Rochester, they streamline the ability to deal with unforeseen events by posing problems and establishing a time to resolve them.
They promote teamwork
According to the Californian Institute for the Future (IFTF), games with several players with a common goal reinforce the ability to solve problems collaboratively.
They stimulate creativity, attention and visual memory
The University of California ensures that they stimulate these aspects by posing challenges that force you to concentrate, use your imagination and remember the details to solve them.
Improve strategy and leadership
Video games put their protagonists in command situations, improving their ability to resolve conflicts, direct other characters and make decisions according to the University of Pittsburgh.
They teach languages
According to the University of Helsinki, they facilitate the learning of other languages through on-screen instructions, chats to communicate with other players or the narration of the story itself.
They help critical thinking
Several studies highlight the ability to make players reflect and improve their critical thinking.
THE ROLE OF PARENTS WITH REGARD TO VIDEO GAMES
Despite this, video games continue to generate suspicions among parents. And it has some foundation: the World Health Organization (WHO) included addiction to video games (Gaming Disorder) in the International Classification of Diseases in 2019. When introducing children to video games, it is important to take into account, in the first place, aspects such as the PEGI system —or its equivalent in the United States: ESRB—, which guides parents on whether or not certain games are appropriate, establishing a recommended age of use.
The popular science magazine Psychology Today offers tips for parents:
• Check the content of the games.
Parents should have control over the type of video games that their children spend time on. Go for the educational ones instead of the violent ones.
• Encourage the use of collaborative video games.
When children play together with others, they socialize and form alliances. Avoid turning this type of leisure into a solitary activity.
• Establish time limits.
Rules must be established. For example: they can play for a couple of hours after they have done their homework, not before.
• Follow the recommendations of video game manufacturers.
For example: not sitting near the screen, playing in a well-lit room, not playing at maximum brightness, etc.
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