Gaming

Digital Games And Kids – A Different Perspective

The “Wikipedia problem,” which means children turning to the internet for readymade answers, is the new age phenomenon baffling teachers and mentors globally. There are almost equal numbers of teachers who consider technology to be a solution as much as a problem. While a common belief is that technology hinders the student’s capacity to think and analyze, there is also a strong opinion in favor of video games and digital gadgets’ ability to engage students and enhance learning by using more than one sensory stimulator. Despite the growing concern about the students’ deteriorating attention spans, institutions are incorporating them into classroom learning.

Children are inherently inquisitive creatures. They are curious to discover new things and learn by discovering and experimenting even before they are subjected to formal education methods such as reading or writing. Science is a discipline of experiments and discoveries. The National Science Education Standards emphasize that “science education needs to give students three kinds of scientific skills and understandings.

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Digital games are more capable of gaining students’ interests and attention than other conventional means of imparting education in a classroom. However, some educationists also regard them as culprits of the exponential decline in the attention span of children. The next sections of this article discuss the involvement of children in games in the tech age, the types of games available in the market, and the impact of digital gaming as learning aids in classrooms.

How to Turn Digital Games Into a Fun Physical Learning Experience at School  | KQED

Gaming and the New Age Kids

Digital technology has expanded the horizons of video gaming in the modern world. Kids are subjected to a far more complex and challenging technological environment than their counterparts were from over half a century back. Kids’ involvement in digital gaming results from many significant changes in the lifestyle and culture of modern society. Easy accessibility of technology, dispensable income due to dual-income families, and lack of infrastructure for outdoor activities in many cities are major contributors to making screen games an important part of children’s lives. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010) found that only 20 percent of the census blocks are within half a mile of a block boundary. Also, the effect of peer pressure cannot be undermined in these times of social networking.

The digital gaming market is one of the fastest-growing segments of the global entertainment industry. The US is witnessing unprecedented penetration of digital games among youngsters. In the US, 97% of teens play some games regularly. In India, the gaming market has grown manifold in the last few years. Hence, educationists must continuously contemplate using digital gaming as a learning tool in classrooms. Institutions are also employing innovative ways to leverage the digital advantage to enhance the learning experience at schools.

What are Digital Games?

There is no concrete definition of games as it may vary with an individual’s preference and profession. Games are ” systems in which players engage in artificial conflict, defined by rules, which result in a quantifiable outcome.” Technology and digitization add new dimensions to games: simulations, interactivity, augmented reality, alternative reality, collective intelligence, and sensory stimulators such as sound and visual effects. Their portability and limitless accessibility also characterize digital games.

Simulation games create realistic situations in virtual worlds. The outcome will depend on the player’s decision-making and responsiveness and will be closely similar to what may happen in the real world in the same situation. Widely used for training and analysis, simulation games are also popular due to their unpredictable and personalized outcomes. Flight Simulator X, Live for Speed (LFS), and Need for Speed have been top-rated simulation games for a long time. The puzzle genre of digital games involves problem-solving and analysis with varying degrees of difficulty depending on the game’s nature. Crosswords and treasure hunt games are basic forms of puzzle games in both physical and digital form.

Digital Games in Science Education – Why and Why Not?

The 21st century requires the mentors and the students to integrate technology into the curriculum. Though the ultimate goal is to benefit the students in learning and experience, unsupervised, unorganized, or irrelevant applications can lead to complete failure or have negative effects. Some of the negative impacts of digital games in general and in the context of education are listed below:

Digital games can be addictive for children and make them physically inactive. Digital games, other than social networking, are considered to reduce physical activity, leading to obesity in kids and postural and skeletal disorders.

Addiction to games is also known to make kids socially secluded. Impulsive behavior, depression, and increased anxiety levels are largely attributed to excessive gaming in children. Some studies also suggest that children playing games cannot concentrate for a long span and have a reduced attention span.

Children are prone to absorbing socially unacceptable behavior through some digital games, such as using profanities and ill-treating the fairer sex. Lack of adequate knowledge about screening online material is a growing concern amongst parents.

Multi-player digital games develop a sense of constructive competitive attitude. Collaborative games also improve team-building mood. They develop time management skills in a team and train them to cooperate for a mutually desired goal. They teach the players to accept defeat and strive for better results. Digital games allow hyperactive kids to direct their energy in a constructive system-based game. They also offer an outlet to release aggression and frustration, thus helping diffuse stress.

Some games also involve physical activity, such as Nintendo Wii boxing, helping kids engage mentally and physically with them. Complex digital games involve a high level of multitasking, thus improving the brain’s natural learning process. Brain-based learning theory proposes that multitasking is an inherent brain activity, and challenges enhance learning at various levels. Digital games develop efficient situational analysis and strategy-making in children. Since games have certain objectives at every level and a final aim, they teach players to devise short-term and long-term strategies such as scoring points, retaining energy, and reaching the game’s ultimate goal. Simulation games and role-playing digital games help players gain expertise or learn by experiencing replicas of real-world situations. Experiential learning and action learning theories are based on the premise that individuals learn faster when sharing and participating in the action.

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