Indian students learn how to design video games. Photo courtesy Duke TIP.
It’s been a while since I saw so much junk science in a single article.
The Indian Express just published a piece arguing that video games make kids aggresive. The article quotes official-sounding people, such as Adarsh Kohli, professor of clinical psychology at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, and child psychologists in India. These experts claim a number of video-game dangers, including:
* Gaming makes children forget to eat;
* Gaming makes children become irritated if they can’t play;
* Gaming causes social withdrawal, lack of participation in family activities, and disinterest in people;
* Gaming makes children immune to trauma;
* Gaming makes children rebellious;
* Gaming causes back problems, such as cervical spondylitis;
* Gaming causes photogenic seizures (the actual term is photosensitive epilepsy, and it’s very rare);
* Gaming causes weak eyesight (interesting, since the same newspaper reported that video games can heal lazy eye).
Meanwhile, another India news outlet, Deccan Chronicle, recently published an article showing that playing video games boosts kids’ exam results. Based on research at Yardleys School in Birmingham, England, the article explains that 70 percent of regular gamers exceeded targets on standardized tests, while only 40 percent of non-gamers did so.
Granted, this may be because students who excel academically may also be drawn to play video games regularly; let’s face it, smart kids/geeks and gaming often go hand in hand.
But someone at the White House thinks video games are such a positive influence, they’re exploring ways to use them in the classroom. Many schools already do this, but new research could turn it into more of a nationwide phenomenon:
As studies began to show that no such relationship exists, research turned toward how video games can be used to positively benefit society.
“It turns out that many of those relationships just haven’t borne out in the research, and new fields have emerged around looking at how games function as a means for turning screen time into activity time,” said [Constance] Steinkuehler, [a senior policy analyst at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy]. According to Steinkuehler, federal investments in games is not a new concept, and dates back well before the Obama administration.
As science moves ahead, will articles like the first one become a thing of the past? I hope so.