Check out any group of teens or tweens nowadays and you will find the culture vultures among them with a mobile device in hand. They will probably be texting, watching or making videos. However, many kids still have computers. And many kids play online social video games, like Minecraft, Call of Duty, and World of Warcraft. For those of you who do not play these games, the total experience looks something like this: The game plays on the computer screen in all its 3D glory, with scores and other data displayed along the top and or bottom, and a chat running in one corner in which team mates can exchange information or hear about who killed who on the field of play. As though 6 or 8 running streams of data were not enough to fill a player’s bandwidth, many players are texting or on the phone with a friend playing the same game. Videos or music stream on other devices in the background.
When my son, at the age of eight, decided he wanted to play Minecraft with the big kids, he learned to type.Not wanting to be teased by the older kids, he learned to spell. Wanting to win, he learned how to organize strategies. He started reading about different worlds upon which Minecraft game maps were based. He watched endless numbers of Minecraft “Let’s Play” videos. Like many parents, I wonder about the effect of these games on our kids. There have been endless studies about how violent video games may make kids more violent (for example, Gentile, D. A. & Anderson, C. A. (2003). Violent video games: The newest media violence hazard. In D. A. Gentile (Ed.), Media violence and children. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishing). Or less violent. Or maybe less cooperative. In July, 2013 The US Senate voted to fund some new studies.
There are now people claiming that playing video games make our kids smarter. And research is starting to be done on this question. But till scientists tease it out, it is a matter of opinion. So what do you think? Are video games educational? Which ones are particularly educational and why?