What Children Are Learning From Video Games?

I received a question about the effects of video games to children. I want to make very clear that my opinion does not base on academic research (or any facts for that matter) and is purely my opinion so take take this as a grain of salt.


What are the positive and negative effects of video games on kids

I wanted to approach this question by thinking how kids generally might experience video games. I created two brief lists:

Positive effects
Here are some good sides about playing video games. Naturally some of these elements might apply also for older players.

  • Learn English – Video games can be especially good for those who don’t speak English as their native language. I have learned a lot about English language by playing different adventure games in the past.
  • Fun – Video games can be really fun, and can bring joy in life.
  • Social skills – While some parents might think that kids won’t learn social skills, I believe it can be quite different. Gathering friends or playing online with other people can sometimes be a fine way to get some social skills (and by all means I don’t think computer games should replace other type of socializing).
  • Math, physics (and other sciences) – Sometimes games can teach player math or physics (as an example, bridge building game comes to my mind).
  • Alphabetics and other “stuff you learn at school” – Some games can teach alphabetics, drawing skills and other stuff kids learn at schools. Games won’t replace teachers yet, but perhaps we’ll see that day in the future…
  • Problem solving skills – Many video games require some sort of problem solving skills (yes, some rely on guns, but there’s also different type of games that require puzzles to be solved).
  • Creativity – Many games challenge players to come up with creative ideas and strategies.

Negative effects:
Video games aren’t just for fun. There can be some negative effects that should be taken into consideration.

  • Sleep rhythm – I would assume that kids that play all nights might be pretty tired during the days. Parents should watch out how many hours kids stare that computer screen.
  • Money spent on games – Not necessarily a bad thing to spend some money on games, but hopefully kids doesn’t put all their allowances in games.
  • Lack of fresh air – Kids gotta play outdoors. Video console Wii might make bring boxing or golf in the house, but it won’t beat getting fresh air.
  • Game violence – Some games are violent and not suitable for kids. Similar to movies, I don’t think everything is suitable for kids.

I believe balance is needed here: in reasonable portions, video games can do a world good to kids. Excessive playing on the other hand can have negative impact.

Juuso Hietalahti