Digital Games And Kids – A Different Perspective

The “Wikipedia problem” which means children turning to internet for readymade answers is the new age phenomenon baffling teachers and mentors globally. There are almost equal numbers of teachers who consider technology to be a solution as much as a problem. While a common belief is that technology is hindering the students’ capacity to think and analyze, there is also a strong opinion in favor of video games and digital gadgets’ ability to engage students and enhance learning by using more than one sensory stimulators. In spite of the growing concern about the students’ deteriorating attention spans, institutions are incorporating them in the process of classroom learning.

Children are inherently inquisitive creatures. They have a curiosity to discover new things and learn by way of discovering and experimenting even before they are subjected to methods of formal education such as reading or writing. Science is a discipline of experiments and discoveries. The National Science Education Standards emphasize that “science education needs to give students three kinds of scientific skills and understandings. Students need to learn the principles and concepts of science, acquire the reasoning and procedural skills of scientists, and understand the nature of science as a particular form of human endeavor. Students therefore need to be able to devise and carry out investigations that test their ideas, and they need to understand why such investigations are uniquely powerful. Studies show that students are much more likely to understand and retain the concepts that they have learned this way “. Hence, it becomes imperative to engage children in science education at an early stage.

Digital games are more capable to gain students’ interests and attention than other conventional means of imparting education in a classroom. However, some educationists also regard them as culprits of exponential decline in the attention span in children. The next sections in this article discuss the involvement of children in games in the tech age, types of games available in the market and the impact of digital gaming as learning aids in classrooms.

Gaming and the New Age Kids

Digital technology has expanded the horizons of video gaming in the modern world. Kids are subjected to far more complex and challenging technological environment than their counterparts were from over half a century back. Involvement of kids in digital gaming is a result of many significant changes in the lifestyle and culture of the modern society. Easy accessibility of technology, dispensable income due to dual income families and lack of infrastructure for outdoor activities in many cities are some major contributors in making screen games an important part of the children’s’ lives. A study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010) found that only 20 percent of the census blocks are within half a mile of a block boundary. Also, the effect of peer pressure cannot be undermined in these times of social networking.

The digital gaming market is one of the fastest growing segments of the global entertainment industry. US is witnessing unprecedented penetration of digital games amongst youngsters. In the US, 97% of the teens play some type of game on a regular basis. In India, the gaming market has grown manifold in the last few years. Hence, it is imperative that educationists are continuously contemplating the use of digital gaming as a learning tool in classrooms. Institutions are also employing innovative ways to leverage the digital advantage for enhancing the learning experience at schools.

What are Digital Games?

There is no concrete definition of games as it may vary with an individual’s preference and profession. Games can be defined as a “system in which players engage in artificial conflict, defined by rules, which result in a quantifiable outcome”. Technology and digitization add new dimensions to games where simulations, interactivity, augmented reality, alternative reality, collective intelligence and sensory stimulators such as sound and visual effects. Digital games are also characterized by their portability and limitless accessibility.

Role-playing games, simulation games and puzzles are some of the most popular digital games. In role-playing games, the player enacts the role of a particular character in a virtual world moving from one level to the other based on the outcome of the earlier level. RPGs can be single player such as the dungeons and dragons from earlier days of gaming or multi-player games such as Diablo III, Xenoblade, Final Fantasy XIII-2 or Mass Effect 3. MMORPG or the Massive Multiple Online Role-Playing Games are an extension of the RPGs where large number of players interacts in an online virtual world. Simulation games create realistic situations in virtual worlds. The outcome will depend on the player’s decision-making and responsiveness and will be closely similar to what may happen in a real world in the same situation. Widely used in training and analysis, simulation games are also popular due to their unpredictable and personalized outcomes. Flight Simulator X, Live for Speed (LFS) and Need for Speed have been extremely popular simulation games for a long time. Puzzles genre of digital games involves problem solving and analysis with varying degrees of difficulty depending on the nature of the game. Crosswords and treasure hunt games are basic forms of puzzle games in both physical and digital form.

All types of digital games involve a social involvement of players. Some need collaborative efforts to play while others may be discussed or analyzed socially. In spite of some games being accused of outright violent visual effects, a well-designed game can accelerate the thinking process by motivating, engaging, involving creativity and developing a meta-game i.e., social interactions inspired and enhanced inside or outside the game. Incorporating digital gaming in the basic education framework can lead to augmented competitiveness and multi-dimensional growth in children.

Digital Games in Science Education – Why and Why Not?

The 21st century requires the mentors and the students to integrate technology into the curriculum. Though the ultimate goal is to benefit the students in terms of learning and experience, unsupervised, unorganized or irrelevant application can lead to complete failure or have negative effects. Some of the negative impacts of digital games in general and in context with the education are listed below:

Digital games have been facing constant rebuke for allegedly enhancing aggression amongst kids and developing a violent streak at an early stage. In a study by Anderson and Bushman (2001), Children involved in violent video games are more likely to have increased aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and decreased prosocial helping. Use of weapons and being rewarded for being violent is a cause of widespread concern.

Digital games can be addictive for children and make them physically inactive. Digital games, other than social networking, are considered for reduced physical activity leading to obesity in kids and postural and skeletal disorders.

Addiction to games is also known to make kids socially secluded. Impulsive behavior, depression and increased anxiety levels are largely attributed to excessive gaming in children. Some studies also suggest that the children playing games are unable to concentrate for a long span and have reduced attention span.

Children are prone to absorbing socially unacceptable behavior through some digital games such as using profanities and ill-treating the fairer sex. Lack of adequate knowledge about screening the material available online is a growing concern amongst the parents.

Digital games are considered a hindrance to better performance in academics. Students are often found to skip homework to play games leading to deteriorated performance at school. However, despite their reputation as promoters of violence and mayhem, digital games have in fact been shown to help children learn skills, content, and vital “21st-century” skills. From digital games children can learn: content (from rich vocabulary to science to history), skills (from literacy to math to complex problem-solving), creation of artifacts (from videos to software code) and systems thinking (how changing one element affects relationships as a whole). Strong arguments in favor of using digital games as learning aids in secondary education are summarized below:

Digital games involve extreme hand-eye coordination and enhance motor and sensory skills. Sensory stimulation theory proposed by academician Laird (1985) validates that effective learning occurs when the senses are stimulated. While some studies show that digital gaming reduces attention span, there are strong evidences of improved concentration in short intervals of time. Digital games involve keeping an eye on every detail, follow the rules and respond proactively to the given situation. Complex digital games help is developing problem-solving and decision-making skills. Some games also involve logical analysis of the situation and pattern recognition and improve memorizing thus assisting in the cognitive process. Playing by the rules teaches children to accept and respect a certain level of discipline.

Multi-player digital games develop a sense of constructive competitive attitude. Collaborative games also improve team-building attitude. They develop time management skills in a team and train the players to cooperate for mutually desired goal. They teach the players to accept defeat as well as strive for better results. Digital games provide an avenue for hyperactive kids to direct the energy in a constructive system based game. They also provide an outlet to release aggression and frustration, thus helping in diffusing stress. Some games also involve physical activity such as Nintendo Wii boxing helping kids to engage mentally and physically with the kids. Complex digital games involve high level of multitasking thus improving brain’s natural learning process. Brain based learning theory proposes that multi-tasking is an inherent activity of the brain and learning is enhanced by challenges at various levels. Digital games develop efficient situational analysis and strategy making in children. Since games have certain objectives at every level and a final objective of the game, it teaches players to devise short term and long-term strategies such as scoring points, retaining energy and reaching the ultimate goal of the game. Simulation games and the role-playing digital games help players gain expertise or learn by experiencing in replicas of real world situations. Experiential learning and action learning theories are based on the premise that individuals learn faster when they by experiencing and actually participating in action.

“Games require the kind of thinking that we need in the 21st Century because they use actual learning as the basis for assessment. They test not only current knowledge and skills, but also preparation for future learning. They measure 21st century skills like collaboration, innovation, production, and design by tracking many different kinds of information about a student, over time. ”

9 Imperative Benefits of Digital Education Platforms

What Is A Digital Education Platform?

A digital learning platform is a software ecosystem with tools that gives learners, teachers, parents and administrators access to common communication tools, information, and resources, not only within the school but outside it as well. When used correctly, it can significantly minimize expenditure on IT and administration, reduce teacher workload, and enhance learning and teaching experience.

For years, printed textbooks have been used, but today some companies have made the intensive efforts to shift from print study materials to digital tools in the form of digital educational platforms. With this change, content has become more interactive and engaging, and the advantages are obvious.

It includes tailored learning technologies ingrained around a digital textbook and can be personalized by faculty to fulfill the requirements of the specific class. They can be easily used on any device and usually involve problems, games, and quizzes to keep students interested and engaged in the topic. Not only these platforms are economical for students to get it, but, when compared to lugging around books, they’re extremely convenient to use online.

Digital Education: An Adaptable Approach

One of the biggest benefits of digital learning is its power to bring the classroom to life with ample of features that benefit not only students but also teachers.

Not only do these platforms work well with students in mastering the content, but they also prepare students with the technical knowledge and skills required for future courses and jobs. The innovative technology and personalized learning integrated into these platforms have lots of benefits.

The 9 Imperative Benefits Of Digital Learning Platforms

These platforms are growing continuously across a wide range of educational institutions, from primary wings to universities. Here are 9 benefits which cannot be overlooked-

1. Improved organization of communication and information

It can assist a school to make sure every student, parent, teacher, and administrator gets access to the information they need, and when they need it.

2. More parental involvement

Using it, parents can get better informed about their child’s progress and school news, and eventually, the learner gets more support at home to continue their learning.

3. More opportunities for personal learning

Using these platforms leads to a higher range of learning resources, and so can both support and motivate independent learners.

4. Improving quality and variety of educational resources

Online education platforms let teachers the opportunity to supplement or replace the textbook with a different range of learning and teaching resources, both in the classroom and online.

5. Bigger opportunities for interaction and collaboration

Collaboration between schools and teachers to merge expertise and resources, and better collaboration between learners, are a few of the most remarkable benefits of making use of this platform.

6. Taking advantage of teachers’ time to attain positive results

Digital education platforms provide several benefits for administrators and teachers by automating several tasks that they need to do regularly. Consequently, schools get more time to focus on their core activity- teaching.

7. Smoothing the progress of strategic leadership and teaching management

With the assistance of modern digital learning platforms, the education sector can get benefitted from faster and clearer communication among all the people involved in education.

8. Enhanced management of student attendance and behavior

They have been found to aid schools’ efforts for improving student attendance and encourage positive behavior.

9. Developing the school identity and community

These platforms assist increase school democracy and offer their students a voice, usually leading to a persuasive sense of school community.

E-learning platform technology is ever-developing today: it’s now faster, more secure, and convenient to use, and it easily gets integrated with other third-party systems in order to create a much more comprehensive studying environment students.

Digital Education: An Access to a Modern World

Today, they are more likely to play an increasingly crucial role as more and more schools and teachers want to develop their use of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) in different areas. By providing communication channels, educational course and tools and school management systems, the best education platforms offer students and teachers a single and quick gateway to using technology inside as well as outside the classroom.

Children’s Educational Games – Playing is Learning

A child’s mind is like a sponge that can be soaked with abundant learning and information. The brain is in developing stages during childhood and that plus point for them to learn more. The other factor is that the children are stress-free, which keeps them mentally active to grasp things around them with much ease. Childhood is the stage when it is important for parents and teachers to inculcate the right mode of learning in children. Different education and learning techniques can develop your child into a more smart and intelligent person.

Techniques to improve your child’s educational skills

Children are naturally curious and all you need to do is keep this inquisitive nature alive in the child. Any game or toy that penetrates their curious mind will catch their attention instantly and they will show increased interest in learning such an activity. There needs to a certain amount of fun element in the activity you present them so that the learning process proves to be successful. Games that are fun to play activate their positive energy and they learn better. Choosing the right activity or game is vital as that will be the deciding factor in the entire educational process.

Ideal children’s educational games

Educational games should involve subjects such as history, science, maths or astronomy. You have access to games that can brush up your kid’s memory and improve his/her spellings. Most of the children’s educational games are animated and aim to draw the kid’s attention at once. Free online brain games are highly resourceful with this regard. Your children will learn new and easy ways of solving math problems or start getting their spellings right by playing these specially devised games. These educational games can prove to be an important technique in the learning program.

Educational games aid learning disability

Educational games cover almost all fields of learning that caters to your child and his learning ability remarkably improves to new heights. The education games are crafted in such a manner that the difficulty level is increased as the child after successfully winning each level. The jigsaw puzzles, spelling games, number games etc available on lumosity.com will help your child direct his mental energy towards positive learning that will benefit them to develop their personality and are also efficient in aiding them academically.

Your child might also be facing learning disabilities such as dyslexia or has poor memory that hinders his educational performance. The brain games available online can be an amazing gift for your child to combat such learning disorders. You can get your hands on these games for free! What more? Guide your child towards better learning techniques for him/her to emerge as smart individuals.

Technology Transforming Future Generations

Nature Valley launched an ad campaign in early July that showed a huge difference between the generations alive today.

They asked 3 generations the same question: “When you were little, what did you do for fun?”

From the grandparents and parents you heard answers like berry-picking, growing watermelons, playing baseball, and building forts.

The children’s responses to the same question included video games, texting, sending email, and watching videos. Nature Valley didn’t stop there, though. They spread the gap even wider when asking the kids how long each day they spent on their electronics. They responded with at least 3 to 5 hours everyday and one little girl aged around 6 said she would “die” without her tablet, their tagline following: “Nature has always been a part of childhood.”

What changed from one generation to the next?

There are currently 6 living generations today:

The Greatest Generation (1901-1926)
Silents (1927-1945)
Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
Generation X (1965-1980)
Generation Y/Millennial (1981-2000)
Generation Z/Boomlets (after 2001)

Technology was introduced during Generation X and Generations Y and Z grew up not remembering a time without certain technologies. The technological revolution that brought along the first mac computers to cell phones to smartphones happened all within the short span of 42 years. Yet, already it seems that technology is changing the habits and lifestyle of future generations. It is a scary thought to think that for so many years prior to this revolution, generations grew up in nature and sent this tradition down, yet in less than a lifespan of the average human being, this healthy and natural way of being has virtually gone out the window (quite literally).

The Greatest Generation, Silents, Baby Boomers, and Generation X are the only generations alive today who remember a world without computers and cell phones. They are the ones who spent a majority of their childhood outdoors and did not have all the conveniences of life as we have them today (some of The Greatest Generation grew up without electricity, refrigerators, or air conditioning). In the 1950s the obesity rate in America was at 9%, but about 50 years later, after the technological revolution, this rate tripled to 33% and in 2006, not a single state reported obesity rates below 10%. An estimated 1 in 3 children are overweight in America today. Is this just a coincidence that as soon as generations starting becoming addicted to technology, obesity rates skyrocketed? While there are more factors to obesity than exercise (diet is also a huge factor), it seems as though children who spend up to 5 hours a day playing video games or texting on their cell phones are not prioritizing time outside of the house. Today, the typical child spends an average of 30 minutes outside per day.

Being outdoors has been proven to be beneficial for children’s body, mind, and spirit. Along with exercise building strong bodies, being outside in the sunlight provides essential vitamin D, which helps protect against future health issues with heart disease, bone problems, diabetes, and more. It can also be said that being outside can improve distance vision and help prevent nearsightedness (which is also a common issue today). Some studies have found that being in an environmental setting can extensively improve symptoms of ADHD, while an outdoor-style education can increase test scores and critical thinking skills. Another study shows that children’s stress levels decrease immediately when they see nature and playtime outside reduces the anxiety that come from the fast-paced, 24/7 world that technology provides.

Not only does technology steal most of the time children spend outside in nature, but there are a number of studies today that show other negative implications of continuously using electronic devices.

Addiction to some forms of technology are real medical conditions. One boy, around 6 years old, answered that sometimes he forgets that he has a family–parents, a sister, a dog–because he is so immersed in the virtual life of his video game. Nomophobia–the fear of being separated from your cell phone–is also a real term that many people feel everyday. Addiction to technology, just as addiction to anything, is considered a psychological disorder that is treatable. Addiction to video games, for example, is being treated as an “impulsive control disorder” along the same lines as compulsive gambling. Along with the side effects of any addiction such as depression or anxiety, addiction to technology also hinders social development.

Even more alarming studies today have claimed that certain technologies, such as cell phones, can physically cause harm to the body over time. Cell phones, while switched on, emit invisible electromagnetic radiation that is absorbed by the body. There has been much debate over a vast array of health effects of mobile radiation over the years including cancer, infertility, autism, learning disabilities, depression, hormonal imbalance, and more.

Currently in US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set a regulation for the specific absorption rate (SAR) of mobile radiation allowed to sell a cell phone in the marketplace. Today, phone companies are testing their SAR’s with a dummy designed after a 220 lb (100 kg), 6’2″ (1.88m) adult man. Clearly, this model doesn’t work well for children who may be a quarter of that size or less-in fact, Om Gandhi, a professor at the University of Utah, children absorb 10 times the amount of radiation that adults absorb. Even if the health effects associated with cell phone radiation haven’t been proven yet, it can’t be good to have your child constantly absorbing high amounts of electromagnetic radiation that is speculated to have these effects.

None of this is to say that you should unplug yourself or your children from technology entirely–some of it acts as a necessity in our society today. Without a computer and cell phone, almost all businesses would not be able to function. The important thing to take away from this information is to be cautious and healthy about the way you approach technology. Limiting time spent on electronic devices, making time to spend with your family outdoors, and remembering that we are just human beings, not robots controlled by technology, are important in leading a healthy lifestyle for you today future generations to come.