Video games are actually good for children, a new Israeli study has found, much to the dismay of (most) parents who automatically think of the violence inherent in games like Grand Theft Auto, Halo and Call of Duty.
The research, done by The Center for Educational Technology, asserts that video games — even violent ones — are beneficial for children on a scale much bigger than originally thought. The claims are in contradiction to other studies that found that extended gaming led to depression, anxiety and stunted social development, not to mention the physical effects brought on by long hours of sitting. Some studies have also linked between video games and increased violent behavior in children, arguing that simulated violence leads to real-life violence.
The center’s research involved over 1,000 children and adolescents ages six to 18, and concluded that video games were more than just entertainment; they improved learning, cognitive and interpersonal abilities, according to the study.
“They are exposed to a lot of content, be it English, math, history,” researcher Avi Warshavsky told Channel 2 news, where a report about the news study was aired. “A game is also a place where you learn failure, because you can lose a game. Failure is part of the picture. In school, they try to teach us the opposite. We’re not supposed to fail. We have to get good grades. And here there’s a psychological atmosphere that encourages second chances, which is much healthier, because it reflects real life.”
“It increased my coordination, my general knowledge, stuff like that,” said one adolescent.
“[Playing video games] gives you the confidence to be anything you want. You can be a hero who saves the world, or a villain. It’s fun,’ said another teenager.
The parents interviewed in the report were not impressed by the new study, their main concerns being the amount of time their children spent in front of a screen and the violent content often involved.
“We have to create alternative events that interest them so they can stop playing video games,” said one parent.
If there’s one message we’d like to stress in the research we published it’s that the child [playing the games] is learning a lot of significant things in that framework, no less than what he learns at school. And that’s something we should encourage,” said Warshavsky.
“A violent game is not the big dramatic thing we imagine it to be. If you go into a toy store, you’ll see a lot of toys that promote violence. The difference between a game that is physically violent and one that is digitally violent is that in the digital world, a lot of positive things are also being learned,” he added.
The center published a promotional video about the alleged benefits of video games, as concluded by its study.
“Like it or not, gaming has become an effective parallel path for education,” the video claims.