Digital Games And Kids – A Different Perspective

The “Wikipedia problem,” which means children turning to the internet for readymade answers, is the new age phenomenon baffling teachers and mentors globally. There are almost equal numbers of teachers who consider technology a solution as much as a problem. While a common belief is that technology hinders 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 stimulator. Despite the growing concern about the students’ deteriorating attention spans, institutions are incorporating them in classroom learning.

Children are inherently inquisitive creatures. They are curious 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 can 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.

Digital Games

Gaming and the New Age Kids

Digital technology has expanded the horizons of video gaming in the modern world. Kids are subjected to a far more complex and challenging technological environment than their counterparts were from over half a century back. The involvement of kids in digital gaming results from many significant changes in the lifestyle and culture of modern society. Easy accessibility of technology, dispensable income due to dual-income families, and lack of infrastructure for outdoor activities in many cities are major contributors to making screen games an important part of children’s lives. The 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.

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The US is witnessing unprecedented penetration of digital games amongst youngsters. The digital gaming market is one of the fastest-growing segments of the global entertainment industry. In the US, 97% of teens play some type of game regularly. In India, the gaming market has grown manifold in the last few years. Hence, it is imperative that educationists continuously contemplate using 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 simulations, interactivity, augmented reality, alternative reality, collective intelligence, and sensory stimulators such as sound and visual effects. Their portability and limitless accessibility also characterize digital games.

Role-playing games, simulation games, and puzzles are some of the most popular digital games. RPGs can be single players 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 many players interact in an online virtual world. Simulation games create realistic situations in virtual worlds. 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. 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.