Turning Everyday Fun into Learning I grew up in a household where video games were a privilege that I had to earn. When I had done all my homework and chores, I was allowed to play video games for an hour a day. As I grew older my parents thought I could make my own choices and did not limit the amount of time I spent playing video games. Many people today think that video games cause children to become couch potatoes, act dumb, and be rude. As a young child, my parents taught me that responsibilities come before the reward. That is why I have a different opinion of video games.
I believe that video games can be beneficial to individuals; however, there are limitations. They help children deal with cancer, improve literacy skills, gain educational skills, and stay fit, but individuals should be cautious about the genre of the game and the amount of play time. When these precautions are taken, video games can be a helpful tool for many. The first at home video game, Pong, was created by Allan Alcorn for the Atari. It consisted of two dimensional graphics and was the first game to attract people’s attention.
To win, you had to be the first to defeat your opponent in this virtual game of table tennis. Soon after, the video gaming industry began expanding at an unimaginable rate. It took only 30 years to develop this multimillion dollar industry. New technology is opening doors for more advanced gaming systems and the industry is always increasing. We have come from a virtual two-dimensional game of table tennis, to realistic graphics with an abundant amount of detail. One advantage of video games is that they help patients in hospitals with certain problems like cancer, stress management and even physical therapy.
Imagine your son or daughter has cancer. Every time they go to the hospital to get chemotherapy, they dread it, and it saddens you knowing how much pain they will be in. You try to think of a distraction but come up with nothing. In the early 1990s, studies found that video games help pediatric cancer patients deal with the side effects from chemotherapy. According to Kato, two experiments have found that patients that played video games during part of their cancer treatment showed a decrease in the amount of side effects like nausea, vomiting, anxiety, and pain.
A study in 1993 by Vasterling found that patients who were put in relaxation training, and patients who played video games, showed the same results. The patients from both groups experienced fewer side effects than those who were not exposed to either of the groups. However, relaxation training cannot be done by just anyone, the person has to be a trained professional (Kato). It becomes difficult for hospitals to use this method because relaxation personnel are not always available and tend to be expensive.
Also, a study by Patel in 2009, showed that video games reduce anxiety before the patient is put under. Patients who did not play a hand held game showed high anxiety levels before being put under, compared to the video games group (Kato). According to “By the Numbers: Teens and Video Games”, 97% of adolescence play video games, so what child wouldn’t want to play them in the hospital? They are inexpensive, children would be happy, and no trained professionals are needed. Therefore, video games would make a great alternative in this hospital setting.
Video games are becoming a part of life in many individuals’ lives, especially children’s. Many parents and teachers worry that this new obsession is restricting their children’s learning, however, studies and facts show otherwise. In 2006, numerous children ages eight to thirteen came together to play “Civilization” after school. These preteens were part of a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin (Glazer). The game civilization starts out in 4000 BC; the individual player has to construct an empire that is successful and better than the surrounding ones.
An average game last approximately 20 hours of play time, but if the player wants to attain a higher proficiency ,then it takes over 100 hours (Glazer). The game has a range of vocabulary and the children that play the game are exposed to them. Kurt Squire, who was administering this study said, “The children encounter words like ‘monarchy’ and ‘monotheism’ for the first time. ” By being exposed to all this vocabulary the children have to learn what the words mean in order to know what is going on in the game. Teens writing skills are also improving (Glazer).
Blogging has become a popular way of communication between players of the online world. Teens’ have to describe to the unseen readers what they are trying to convey by relating to them and using details. The new writing styles the teens are beginning to adopt reflect those of journalists. Steinkuehler, a University of Wisconsin researcher, has found that these preteens’ and teens’ online message boards are full of posts that are written at a 12th-grade reading level (Glazer). These online blogs and message boards are allowing adolescens to learn for themselves how to write at a higher level before the schools teach them.
Now days, teens are not only consumers, they are producers of content as well. As a result, how could one say that video games are not improving the literacy skills of these young teenagers? Parents believe that video games are making their kids dumber and distracting them from learning; however, video games have been shown to assist individuals in learning educational skills. Many schools today use educational video games to teach students certain skills. I remember when I was in elementary school, once a week my class would go to the computer lab to play “Oregon Trail”.
This was and still is a popular game among many schools. “Oregon Trail” teaches students what a family needed to do in order to survive a journey across the country and how to overcome obstacles. The player had to make decisions such as where to stop, how long to travel in a single day, the pace of travel, what to do when something unexpected happened, when to hunt, and where to get food. “Oregon Trail” also taught students about the history at the time, and many things we take for granted today, like literacy, were very difficult to come across in that time periods.
According to the Federation of American Scientists, “Students remember 10 percent of what they read and 20 percent of what they hear but almost 90 percent if they do the job themselves. ” By allowing children to play these simulations they retain more of the information and it allows them to learn from more than one perspective. Through trial and error, a player usually succeeded in the game 50% of the time. Games like “Oregon Trail” that are used in school allow kids to make decisions based on scientific reasoning.
They build a hypothesis, go through with the experiment, then interpret the results; if they were not successful, they come up with another hypothesis and so forth until they are successful in their goal. In 2002, the U. S Army launched a game called “America’s Army” to recruit and train soldiers (Glazer). The game lets players experience what the army life is really like. Through the gaming simulations, soldiers learn to make quick decisions. These simulations are helpful because if the soldier makes a wrong decision it does not harm anyone in the real world, and they can learn from their mistakes.
Strategy games demand much thought. They require the player to make decisions and think quickly on what to do next. These games improve decision-making skills because children weigh the cost and benefit of each choice (Game on! [Parenting]). All kinds of video games help individuals improve their memory skills (Game on! [Parenting]). Players journey through different levels, earn prizes and unlock secret path ways. By remembering these things from previous levels and applying them to other levels, players are able to beat the game faster.
There are many games that parents can enjoy with their children and benefit from them. Not only would the individuals learn new educational skills, but parents could spend time with their kids. Many parents would agree that children who play video games are couch potatoes. Nothing will get them off their butts to go outside and play. However, with new gaming systems like the Wii from Nintendo, Kinect from Xbox, and the Playstation Move Motion Controller individuals can stay active while enjoying their favorite games. Exergames, as they are called, can help children stay active and burn calories while having fun.
A study, conducted by the Mayo Clinic in 2007, observed 25 children that were exposed to “sitting and watching TV, playing a traditional video game, playing two active exergames, and watching TV while walking on a treadmill” (Hancock). The researchers found that the children burned the most calories when playing an exergame that involved dancing. They figured out that children lose more calories when they are partaking in something that they enjoy. Although exergames are not as effective as actual physical exercise, it is effective in fighting obesity. I personally own a Wii that I received last Christmas, and play very often.
Not only does it help you lose weight it also improves your balance, hand-eye coordination, and flexibility. The Wii Fit comes with a program that allows you to do a daily body test and measure the amount of calories you burn. This test measures your weight, balance and gives you a fitness age. I started out at a fitness age of 32 and after only a few days I was at the age I was supposed to be, 18. The game helped me improve myself while I was having fun. Games like “Need for Speed 2” and “Power Boat Racers” were used in a study by O’Connor in 2000 that took 35 atients with spinal cord injuries and turned their wheelchairs into “virtual joysticks” (Kato). The patients were inspired to move their joysticks to play these games. The study concluded that all the players were able to reach their fitness goals that participated in the games. Not only do games help the everyday individual stay fit, they also help patients. Although video games can be beneficial there are some restraints individuals should be cautious of. The length of play time is a huge factor in determining if the video game can be advantageous to the individual.
Depending on the person, the game time varies. It is easier for children to be limited in their play time because parents can tell them to stop playing video games and go do something else. Excessive play time, therefore, is more of a problem with teens and adults. Because there is no one in charge of them, they can play as long as they want. Ian said, “After playing for a few hours, I notice myself getting irritated and angry. ” I can relate to this also because when I play a game and get stuck on a level for a long time, I cannot finish.
Then I get very frustrated, even after I quit playing I found myself annoyed with many little things. Not only do I get aggressive, but my eyes sting and I get very bad headaches from staring at the screen for so long. Mark Griffiths, in the article “Video Games and Health”, said, Other case studies have reported adverse effects of playing video games, including auditory hallucinations, enuresis, encopresis, wrist pain, neck pain, elbow pain, tenosynovitis, hand-arm vibration syndrome, repetitive strain injuries, peripheral neuropathy, and obesity. However, when these effects do appear they are insignificant and short.
A decrease in play time will almost always fix the problem (Griffiths). Immoderate play could lead to addiction. CQ Researcher said, Jeffrey Stark “went for a week without bathing or eating a proper meal and stopped going to school for a semester. ” Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines addiction as “persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful. ” You could say that Jack and many others are addicted because excessive play is harmful to their social lives. Another factor individuals should be cautious about is the genre of the game.
Violent video games like “Call of Duty” and “Fallout” are very popular especially among boys in their late teens yet, they have negative effects. In 2000 Anderson & Dill concluded that “playing violent video games leads to aggressive thoughts” (Gentile). These aggressive thoughts will make the players act on them, which could lead to trouble. Also, they cause the individuals to think that accidental harm against them was intentional, making them more aggressive. In a study, Gentile found that “playing violent video games is positively related to arguing with teachers and getting into physical fights. This means that the more violent video games an individual in exposed to the higher chance they have of arguing or getting into fights. Along with length of play, genre of the game also prompts aggression and a decrease in social behavior. For example, individuals who played violent games, gave less money to charities and were difficult to cooperate with (Greitemeyer). As long as one is cautious about these two factors, there is nothing to worry about when playing video games. Many people today enjoy video games because they allow an individual to interact, unlike television.
The individual is in charge of what happens and makes all the decisions. Video games can be beneficial to individuals. They can help pediatric patients deal with cancer side effect, improve literacy skills, acquire new educational skills and stay fit. As long as the length of play and the genre of the game are monitored the individual should be well off. Parents can help their children with this by limiting their play time. They could also make sure that the video game system is in a room where many of the household members are.
This would allow parents to see what their children are playing, instead of locked behind the bedroom doors. If parents take action, they can help their children avoid negative side effects and instead benefit from the games. Maybe in a few decades all the video games will become exergames that contain educational and literacy skills. With new technology constantly arising, our generation is attempting to make games that are beneficial to individuals. But as for now, we must make the best of what we have to learn from. Works Cited “Addiction. ” Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 2010. Web. 0 Nov. 2010 Ballantine, Ian. Personal Interview. 17 Nov. 2010. “Game on! [Parenting]. ” The Times of India 10 Nov. 2010, ProQuest. Gaylord, Chris . “By the Numbers: Teens and Video Games. ” The Christian Science Monitor, 16 Sep. 2008. Web. 20 Nov. 2010. Gentile, Douglas A. et al. “The Effects of Violent Video Game Habits on Adolescent Hostility, Aggressive Behaviors, and School Performance. ” Journal of Adolescence 27 (2004): 18-20. Print. Glazer, Sarah. “Video Games. ” CQ Researcher 16. 40 (2006): 937-960. CQ Researcher. Web. 18 Oct. 2010. Greitemeyer, Tobias, and Silvia Osswald. Effects of prosocial video games on prosocial behavior. ” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 98. 2 (2010): 211-221. PsycARTICLES. EBSCO. Web. 18 Oct. 2010. Griffiths, Mark. “Video Games and Health. ” British Medical Journal, 16 July 2005. Web. 20 Nov. 2010. Hancock, Michelle. “SAY “Wii” to WEIGHT LOSS. ” Alive: Canadian Journal of Health & Nutrition 311 (2008): 78-81. Consumer Health Complete – EBSCOhost. EBSCO. Web. 18 Oct. 2010. Kato, Pamela M. “Video games in health care: Closing the gap. ” Review of General Psychology 14. 2 (2010): 113-121. PsycARTICLES. EBSCO. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.