Surpassing music and movie media in sales, there’s little doubt that computer gaming has become high school students’ favorite leisure choice. Not surprisingly, gaming culture has become a polarizing force. Proponents see new educational opportunities, while critics cite a growing body of research that suggests negative impacts on behavior and cognition. Children who play video games may be more technologically competent. In many schools, computers and technology are used as teaching tools.
Some video games also promote fine motor skills, which assist children in writing, cutting and other activities that draw on the dexterity and manipulation of the fingers. Psychologist Dr. Drew Messer performed studies between 2001 and 2007 involving adults and children and concluded that video gaming can enhance cooperation and fine motor skills. Video games require focus. Many require players to think logically to solve problems. Players must actively follow directions to successfully complete problems presented in a game.
Similarly, students in school must pay attention and follow directions. Some studies indicate that playing video games has a negative effect on a child’s academic performance. When children play video games, they are typically not reinforcing school activities or doing homework. However, a survey of 4,500 middle school children conducted by Dr. Iman Sharif indicates that the frequency and times children play video games determine any negative effects. When compared with their academic progress, Dr.
Sharif concluded that video game play during the week was harmful to a child’s academic progress, but playing during the weekend did not adversely affect a student’s performance. A study by Gentile, Lynch, Linder and Walsh tested whether violent video games were more likely to lead to aggression in school. Psychologists Linder, Gentile and Walsh and pain management physician Lynch researched student aggression and video games by asking eighth and ninth graders to ate the violence in the video games they watched and answer questions about their academic success and aggression. Their conclusions, published in 2004, found that the more aggressive the games were and the longer students were exposed to them, the more likely students were to be hostile in school. The research examined the frequency that students argued with teachers and whether they had been involved in fights. Males were more likely to be exposed to violent games for longer periods of time and more likely to be aggressive.