Kelly is a passionate and dedicated elementary (primary) teacher who has developed the most amazing collection of games and written about their educational applications. Check out her blog. You won’t be disappointed.
Recently the UK’s Futurelab organisation published a report about ‘the benefits and risks to children’s wellbeing and learning associated with playing computer games.’ As most of us either have children or relatives who are children who play computer games and/or are considering introducing or have introduced gaming into schools, this report will be of interest.
questions addressed included:
- What role do computer games play in the social, leisure and informal learning activities of families (parents and their children)?
- What are the attitudes and perceptions of family members towards the benefits and risks of playing computer games?
- How can we support parents and their children to appreciate and understand the benefits and risks associated with playing computer games?
Three documents outlining the project and results are available.
One of the key findings was
Parents and young people, that is, those aged 5-15, perceived that there were benefits to playing video games as a family, with the main motivation being enjoyment.
The important aspect of this is communication and connectedness within the family for building and maintaining good relationships. This should be applicable to school as well.
This article appeared in yesterday’s Herald Sun. More and more academics are doing research in relation to the benefits of video games and the relationship between video games and learning.
By Greg Thom, From: Herald Sun, December 10, 2009 12:00AM
PLAYING video games may help boost crucial social skills needed by pre-school children to help them succeed later in life.
Childhood development experts suggest fun games, which encourage teamwork and friendship, can lay the groundwork for positive interaction between children, leading to better behaviour and academic results.
They say parents’ obsession with ensuring children can read, write and count before reaching primary school can lead to a lack of emphasis on developing social skills.
Children who are socially successful at school are more likely to enjoy it, have a positive outlook on learning, display higher self-esteem and develop good coping skills.
Melbourne University childhood development expert Prof Michael Bernard said social competence had to be taught at home. He said many parents falsely thought children would reach primary school equipped to meet social needs.
“Some children come from home backgrounds where they never learn (playing naturally), and what’s important in the early years is to help up-skill them in social skills,” he said.
Children who did not know how to engage with others while playing would suffer later.
“If they don’t come to school with those skills, they’re at a very big disadvantage in terms of their emotional wellbeing,” he said.
Video games fostering social skills should be encouraged.
A recent paper prepared for the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority by early childhood researchers Patricia and Don Edgar said video games could help children develop skills such as comprehension, decision making, collaboration and leadership. But parental involvement was crucial.
Examples of helpful games include Wonder Pets: Save the Animals, about three friends who rescue animals, and games based on the pre-school hit Dora the Explorer.
Sharendipity is a site that lets you create your own games and then upload them to the site, embed them into other websites or just use games that other people have developed.
Their website states:
Sharendipity is the fun and easy way to create fun, social games without programming that can be shared with your friends or embedded on your website. Or simply browse and play the creations of others, challenging your friends to beat your high score! Create a game in four easy steps or try the advanced game creator!
Arcadamic Skill Builders (no typo – just a mashup or arcade (games) and academic I guess) bills itself as “The place for educational games.”
From the website comes the following information:
Arcademic Skill Builders are research-based and standards-aligned educational games that offer an innovative approach to teaching basic academic skills. We incorporate features of arcade games and educational practices into fun online games that will engage, motivate, and teach your students.
Play games for free right here on our site! We have multi-player and single player games.
With numerous games to select from and educational standards and research based evidence provided, this site is a must see for teachers.
ScienceDaily (July 17, 2009) — Scientists at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center have found that playing active video games can be as effective for children as moderate exercise. The findings appear this week in the journal Pediatrics from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
While OU pediatricians don’t recommend children stop playing outside or exercising, the research shows that active video games offer a great alternative to moderate exercise for many children of today’s generation who are sedentary and at high risk for obesity and diabetes.
“These exer-games are no substitute for ‘real’ sports activities, but if kids play them as designed and stay engaged, they can burn several calories per hour above their sedentary level. We view any increase in energy expenditure (calories burned) as a good thing, especially in our overly-sedentary society,” said Kevin Short, Ph.D., principal investigator on the project.
To test the idea, researchers measured the heart rate, energy expenditure and self-reported exertion in children between ages 10-13 while they watched television, played active video games and walked on the treadmill at three different speeds.
Compared to watching television, the calories burned while gaming or walking increased 2- to 3-fold. Similarly, high rates of energy expenditure, heart rate and perceived exertion were elicited from playing Wii boxing, Dance Dance Revolution Level 2 or walking at 3.5 mph.
Wii bowling and beginner level DDR elicited a 2-fold increase in energy expenditure compared to television watching.
Overall, the energy expenditure during active video game play was comparable to moderate-intensity walking. Thus, for children who spend considerable time playing electronic screen games for entertainment, OU researchers found that substituting that time with physically active games can be a safe, fun and valuable means of promoting energy expenditure.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Children’s Medical Research Institute.
- Graf, Diana L., Pratt, Lauren V., Hester, Casey N., Short, Kevin R. Playing Active Video Games Increases Energy Expenditure in Children. Pediatrics, 2009 0: peds.2008-2851 DOI: 10.1542/10.1542/peds.2008-2851
Adapted from materials provided by University of Oklahoma.