Happy National Video Game Day!
Happy National Video Game Day! Thankfully, this appears to be more of a cultural phenomenon with unknown origins and no apparent official status, but it is a good reason to take a look at video games:

According to the study Zero to Six: Electronic Media in the Lives of Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Children's Digital Media Centers, children aged 0-6 spend as much time with television, computers and video games as they do outside. Parents have a generally positive attitude about the educational value of these media., with about half considering educational television and videos "very important" to a child's intellectual development.

Video games are a newer medium without as much research into them as television, however the research available indicates a link between violent video games and aggression in children. The connection only makes sense.
However, studies by psychologists such as Douglas Gentile, PhD, and Craig Anderson, PhD, indicate it is likely that violent video games may have even stronger effects on children's aggression because (1) the games are highly engaging and interactive, (2) the games reward violent behavior, and because (3) children repeat these behaviors over and over as they play (Gentile & Anderson, 2003). Psychologists know that each of these help learning - active involvement improves learning, rewards increase learning, and repeating something over and over increases learning. Psychology Matters
But the videos and video games we use are educational, right? Tigger's Honey Hunt surely will not cause any adverse effects on children. After all, there is some recent research indicating that video games promote learning, likely for the very reasons mentioned by Psychology Matters.
The UK study concluded that simulation and adventure games--such as Sim City and RollerCoaster Tycoon, where players create societies or build theme parks, developed children's strategic thinking and planning skills. BBC News
I have never doubted that there might be some educational benefit to television and video games. It is a powerful medium for conveying images and feelings. And while some may provide some benefit in some areas, I question at what cost. What we know about brain development emphasizes the need for children to concretely explore their world, not manipulate images on a screen. Teenagers playing Sim City with a group of friends does not concern me as much as children ages zero to six spending this amount of time in front of a monitor or television screen. But there is even more research to consider before incorporating video games into curriculum:
The tendency to lose control is not due to children absorbing the aggression involved in the computer game itself, as previous researchers have suggested, but rather to the damage done by stunting the developing mind.

Using the most sophisticated technology available, the level of brain activity was measured in hundreds of teenagers playing a Nintendo game and compared to the brain scans of other students doing a simple, repetitive arithmetical exercise. To the surprise of brain-mapping expert Professor Ryuta Kawashima and his team at Tohoku University in Japan, it was found that the computer game only stimulated activity in the parts of the brain associated with vision and movement...

...The students who played computer games were halting the process of brain development and affecting their ability to control potentially anti-social elements of their behaviour. Guardian Unlimited
How we learn can be as important as what we learn. What we learn, we use in varying ways. But how we learn shapes our minds and how we respond to the world around us.

And since I trust most of you will not be spending the day organizing video game tournaments, take some time to explore the Carnival of Education to discuss how young minds are being formed in and out of the classroom.

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