Are Videogames Making Kids Smarter?

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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Are Videogames Making Kids Smarter?


While debate continues over the impact of videogames on children, a small study in the U.S. is examining whether videogames are actually making kids smarter.

The library system in Guitar Hero [http://www.pima.gov/], and librarian Jennifer Nichols claims the games program has been very successful in bringing kids to the library and introducing them to its services. "It's been a really effective way to get them here in the library and engaged," she said.

11-year-old Austin Alibi-Isama appeared to back up that belief. "Usually I don't really like to come to the library because it's kind of boring," he said. "But since they have videogames and stuff, I like coming to the library a lot."

A American Library Association [http://www.kvoa.com/Global/story.asp?S=8802708&nav=HMO6HMaY] would like to roll out a "videogame curriculum" for all libraries in the country, a move which would no doubt please Luis Aguilar, another 11-year-old who helped organize a videogame club in the library. Videogames are making him smarter, he said, "Because it helps you with memory, memorizing stuff and hand-eye coordination."

One thing I've personally learned from my brief exposure to this research is that kids, like war, apparently never change. I used that same "hand-eye coordination" line on my parents when I wanted my first computer all those many years ago, but the truth is I would've sworn on a stack of bibles that the thing could cure cancer if I thought it would improve my chances of getting it. Are kids getting smarter, or are they already smart enough to know how to get what they want? (Sorry, mom and dad.)


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Jumplion

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Mar 10, 2008
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I like the way this library is thinking.

"Hey kids! Reading is FUUUNNN!!"

"Nah, it's sortof boring"

"We have video games! And CANDAY!"

"WOO HOO!!"

Bribing FTW!
 

shatnershaman

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May 8, 2008
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Jumplion said:
I like the way this library is thinking.

"Hey kids! Reading is FUUUNNN!!"

"Nah, it's sortof boring"

"We have video games! And CANDAY!"

"WOO HOO!!"

Bribing FTW!
As long as it works.

Reading at all costs! Take no prisoners comrades!
 

snuffler

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Jun 4, 2008
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I have an article taped to the wall over top of my monitor that headlines: Video Games Massage Mind. It was published in my local paper a few years back and outlines a study where 50% of the participants were asked to play video games regularly and 50% werent, when tested the 50% that did were more readily able to track more objects at once. Although I dont remember the specifics of the article as I am at work right now, it was a very interesting read and my parents were always nagging me for playing video games so I grabbed that out of the paper. :p
 

TJ rock 101

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May 20, 2008
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I learned some vocabulary from playing starcraft and diablo when i was young, well quite a good amount really... ^^
Things like "Epitaph"
 

mark_n_b

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Mar 24, 2008
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I do not associate mind massaging with "getting smarter" in the context that the article describes, although gaming assists in the development of reflexive recognition and thinking strategies.

As for making kids smarter, I agree this article is more about bribery than actually learning with games, but as an educational tool games could definitely increase the brain power of kids.

How many pokemon can your average elementary aged kid name? Compare that to State Capitals.

I suggest if part of geography was to capture all them state capitals for trade and battle, we'd be onto something. The legend of Zelda, Gannon is in a magical dungeon known as the White House and you must defeat his servants, the three branches of government, to get Zelda back...

hmmmm...
 

Anton P. Nym

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Sep 18, 2007
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I definitely think that gaming is teaching kids problem-solving skills faster than earlier generations could. Whether they make kids "smarter" or not is another issue, though.

-- Steve
 
Feb 13, 2008
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Anton P. Nym said:
I definitely think that gaming is teaching kids problem-solving skills faster than earlier generations could. Whether they make kids "smarter" or not is another issue, though.

-- Steve
Agreed. If I carry grocery home for my mother, it may make me 'stronger', but it doesn't mean I'm going to have rippling biceps anytime soon.
 

dukeh016

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Jul 25, 2008
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This title is misleading. As is the word "study." The study isn't about whether or not kids get smarter from video games, the study is about whether or not video games will make kids set foot in a library. At least, thats my understanding. I'm not saying yay or nay on the video games = smarter issue, but I don't think this article really has anything to do with that. Unless all kids that set foot within a library, even just to play video games, are thereby smarter. If that's the case, I'm gonna go borrow me some sweet state-sponsored bandwidth and look up por...cheese making recipes. For education.
 

sammyfreak

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Dec 5, 2007
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Libraries are cool and kids going to libraries is cooler. But I see two potential problems, the day libraries turn into arcades with books in the back I will have lost all faith in humanity, two isen't Guitar Hero a bit loud for a library?
 

researchquest

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Aug 7, 2008
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I'm part of an American Library Association group to study and promote the benefits of video games and literacy. I'm also a longtime reader of The Escapist, back when it was in pdf format. The work that libraries are doing with video games is not just about trying to get people to "set foot in a library" as dukeh016 mentioned. Yes, libraries do offer gaming events as a way to build community (just like they show movies and a variety of other community focused activities), but there is more to gaming than just getting people to the library.

There is a wide variety of research out there that shows how gaming helps people learn thought process, critical thinking, information management, predication, communication, and a host of other practical skills. James Paul Gee, Kurt Squire, Henry Jenkins, David Shaffer, Richard Van Eck, and a number of other academic researchers found studied and educational aspects of gaming and how people play games.

Libraries are looking at video games in terms of traditional literacy (reading), but we are also looking at games in terms of media literacy and other new literacies (knowledge, skill, fluency of technologies). We, as gamers, learn as we play and what we are learning is more positive than negative. Hopefully libraries can help bring this learning into the public eye and increase the perception gaming.
 

dukeh016

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Jul 25, 2008
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Well I consider myself corrected. That said, I would assume that most of these studies concluded that video games, just like my vegetables, are only appropriate as part of a larger education. I would even assume (And we all know what that makes me) that these studies compared video games to reading and doing homework and found that the latter two should come in heavier doses than the former. Perhaps I'm wrong though.
 

Spleeni

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Jul 5, 2008
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...now the question is; will the games at the library be Co-op? I mean, it's hard to foster a community on single player.
 

researchquest

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Aug 7, 2008
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Dukeh016,

Most look at gaming by itself. Not really comparison studies in terms of which is better or more effective. There is still a need and benefit for traditional reading and homework. The issue isn't an "either or" but more of an "also." Gaming also involves a number of educational skills. You are right duke016. The educational aspects of games and gaming is just one of the many ways and places that students/players/people learn. And all can contribute to a larger understanding.

Granted games, like books and movies, not all have equal educational value. But the fact that video games have a place at the table in education and libraries is a good starting spot.

Thanks for the discussion.
 

kyouger

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Jun 22, 2008
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Let me recount a personal experience I had growing up. When I was just a little tyke, and the only gaming system we had was a clunky old Windows 95, I actually managed to skip kindergarden alltogether because I was playing an educational game called First Grade for about three months. I highly doubt that I would have learned all the information as fast as I did in the classroom. So, there is no doubt in my mind that educational games make kids smarter. But what about non-educational games?

This will vary depending on the game and what exactly you're trying to teach the kid. Playing CoD4 will teach someone basic millitary commands, but not algebra. And the argument that games (Especially Guitar Hero) improve reflexes is a load of bollocks. It may have increased my finger reflexes (Which actually helps me out in typing), but when you argue that it will help you catch a baseball, you're just lying.

Video games have the potential to be very educational, but they must first find out what they're trying to teach the kid.

As for having GH in libraries... I don't know. It may have more people come in, but how many will actually stay and check out books?

Kyouger.
 

chickaboom73

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Aug 8, 2008
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look, the whole videogame thing got me too. i am of the Pac-Man generation.
the whole idea that the games improve coordination and teach big words is cool.
for instance, if we could take SPORE and introduce it in classrooms of biology and social studies the teachers would merely have to monitor for cheating etc. the curriculum would take care of itself. the whole idea of incorporating lessons in videogames would be da shit. Yup, Mrs. College Grad said that. like i was gonna get away with not saying anything having a 13 y/o 360 guru who has been playing since PS2 (1994, the year he was born).

Go Ahead. Make My Game.
 

Tizzle491

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Aug 7, 2008
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Ummm...Duh. Of course kids are going to the library if they have videogames...

I wonder if mine will put a GTA IV desk, maybe a Fallout 3 one as well

I won't need incentive, i just picked a Discworld book up earlier today