In an environment that supports and encourages them, students may feel free to take intellectual risks because it is just a video game. This kind of teaching makes students confident and excited about what is coming.

Recently, video games have fallen victim to prejudice and accusations of having a negative impact on the mental and physical health of players, especially children and teens. However true that over-playing video games can have negative consequences, like any other thing that is done in excessive amounts, recent research has shown that playing games in the normal amount can be beneficial. Video games can have a positive impact on the health and overall well-being of children.

Changing the Way We Perceive Video Games

For children born in the 21st century, digital tools have become their native language: the language used to communicate, to express themselves and understand the world around them. Digital native speakers also spend a lot of time playing video games and spend time on social networks, sometimes in the form of virtual worlds. Therefore, some teachers encounter real difficulties in engaging and motivating their students to engage through some traditional teaching methods. The reason may be that formal teaching methods do not meet the needs, expectations, and priorities of today’s students.

Some teachers, who realized that electronic gadgets quite possibly play a very important role in education, have started using games and technology to meet their students’ needs and have changed some existing methods to teach some of the most recent advances in technology.

As a result of such a radical change, teachers are now willing to create educational video games. The focus is more on their instructional features than it is on the technology itself. For example, Game Maker is a free program used by many teachers in various schools to make digital games that suit their teaching style. They are mostly used in stimulus training and in the real environment.

In addition, these video games include a large number of participants of different profiles, such as surgeons, soldiers, firefighters, etc. They also provide virtual reality where participants can search, view and attend virtual classes where they can communicate and collaborate, regardless of the physical and geographical barriers between students and faculty.

The Benefits of Video Games

Video games have several educational benefits. They can develop cognitive, spatial and motor skills and contribute to improving technological skills. They can be used to learn new facts, to enhance memory, as well as to teach principles and to solve complex problems. They also foster creativity and provide practical examples of concepts and rules that would otherwise be complicated to evoke in the real world. In the end, they can be immensely useful for conducting experiments that would otherwise be dangerous in real life, such as the use of potentially harmful chemical products.

Despite their pedagogical qualities, not all video games are designed for learning. However, their common feature is that they have the elements to challenge and promote cognitive skills in students. Video games are based on the premise that players have to learn, memorize, explore and come up with additional information to advance the various levels of the game.

Gaming has become synonymous with learning and one of the many benefits of video games is the ability to allow players to learn in a supportive environment where they can make mistakes and learn through play.

This type of environment is especially suitable for students who prefer to have the facts repeated several times, which would further help them to better understand certain concepts that they would otherwise experience as complicated or annoying.

Video games promote genuine collaboration among students and, to some extent, are very similar to learning and work organizations that promote teamwork, where participants share their discoveries and knowledge and learn from each other.

Games develop multiplayer competitions and encourage collaboration, motivating players to join teams and compete against opponents. Players can create teams, share information in writing or orally, and learn by watching other players. Beginners can learn from their peers and improve their skills.

Video games can also have an emotional impact on players, so it helps them increase their confidence and allows them to engage in social activities.

Playing games can be soothing for students who like to express a wide range of emotions even in other fun activities but in a safe and controlled environment. The feelings during the game can go from happiness, empathy, over anger, frustration and feeling of victory. This change of feeling causes the players to remain completely enthralled by the game. In addition, research has shown that feelings can stimulate memory.

Provided that video games can evoke different emotions, they can help players memorize facts more vividly, which encourages the cognitive process. In addition, video games can increase students’ confidence and enable them to achieve something. The learning style matches each student’s skills and provides them with the proper feedback, and thus a better chance of achieving their goals.

All the reasons mentioned above and examples that explain how useful gaming can be to students justify the fact that we benefit from them. In the age of technology we currently live in, it is imperative to use video games as a form of learning and education that can certainly have a positive impact on the mental health of both students and teachers, children and adults.

About the Author

Milica Madić, freelance blog/article writer from Serbia with experience in working with young learners.

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