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When computer games make kids smarter

The constant political drumbeat over the supposed dangers of video games routinely drowns out suggestions that such activity, if used responsibly, might actually have some benefits to society..


Recent research in the United Kingdom notes that a third of the teachers surveyed use computer games in their classrooms, according to the BBC, and that "a majority believe they improve pupils' skills and knowledge." Rhetoric aside, this type of research seems to reinforce the notion that the growing use of may have a positive effect on intellectual development.

The U.K. study does go on to note, however, that two-thirds of the teachers also believed that games could lead to antisocial behavior. But that too just reinforces another point often lost in the debate: The only way to guarantee that technology plays a positive role among youths is for teachers, parents and other guardians to introduce and monitor its use responsibly.

Blog community response:

"Failure is a good teacher. Why are games good for this? Because they make failing and losing fun. Failure and losing is usually accompanied by negative feelings, stigmatization, and reluctance to attempt the activity again. But when we are in a fun place, it turns this idea on its head."

"Research published in the journal Education 3 to 13 has found that pupils who use interactive programs cannot remember stories they have just read because they are distracted by cartoons and sound effects. Describing some software as 'more entertainment than education,' the researchers have warned teachers and parents not to abandon simple storytelling and reading books to young children."
--Fire and Knowledge

"I am not trying to argue that people who spend so much time online are blameless or that overuse doesn't cause problems. But to continue to speak in terms of addiction ignores the nature of the behaviors we are criticizing and I think that we need to recognize that rather than being involved in essentially destructive activities, so-called Internet addicts are usually just guilty of overdoing something that really isn't a bad thing."
--The Fourth Age of Sand