Saturday, 29 June 2013

Can Gaming Be Educational As Well As Fun?!

You may recall that I recently posted on one of my "Things I Hate" posts about term for the generation of very young children who are asking for Ipads and Iphones for Christmas gifts instead of the more traditional bikes & dolls etc....

Well this got me thinking about the educational side of technology and, more specifically, gaming...

Do you think that gaming can actually be beneficial to a childs education?

When I think of computer games that are popular among children now, the ones that immediately spring to mind are the likes of Angry Birds, Moshi Monsters, etc - the focus being on fun and although there may be some benefit to a childs development (hand-eye co-ordination, learning about technology, etc) they don't seem to be generally beneficial to a childs education.

But then there are games such as Junior Brain Training, Art Academy, etc which do encourage children to learn through gaming....

With children being so intrigued by gaming and modern technology, could it actually be that computer games are a priceless tool in getting children to take more of an interest in their education and learning?

Even during my own primary school days, we would be allowed some time on the school computer to have a go at various games which encouraged our mathematical skills - Of course I'm talking about more than 20 years ago and the games were far less interactive and exciting than they are now but I still would have happily spent all day playing on that computer game rather than sitting at my desk and listening to my teacher talk about sums.

Of course, as with everything, I do think that computer games for children need to be used in moderation  - but surely anything that encourages a child to learn and take an active interest in education has to be a positive thing?

When my own son gets older and starts, inevitably, to take an interest in things such as handheld gaming devices - I will be sure to steer him toward the kinds of games that have something valuable to teach him. I find that most games aimed at young children now do try to encourage some form of learning - for example, my 4 year old niece loves to play her Peppa Pig game on her Nintendo DS which, at first glance, may seem to just be a superficial mindless game but actually it does encourage her to count and spot colours on the screen, etc...

Of course, when Tyne is old enough for computer games I will be ensuring that I always check the game content before he uses it, making sure that the game is age appropriate and limiting the time that he spends playing it - but provided that all these things are checked, if a computer game is going to help to teach him something - what can the harm be?

What are your thoughts on the use of technology and computer games in educating children? As always, I'd love to hear from you!
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