Albert Einstein once said that “play is the highest form of research.” We can easily understand just how much play is important for the development of a child, not just from the quote above, but from the fact that play is recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right that should be granted to every child. Still, we know now that children of today are growing up differently than the ones decades ago.
What has significantly changed is the hastened pace of life and the growing presence of technology and the Internet. The fact that children should develop cognitively, physically, emotionally, and socially through play has not changed. Today, the road to that goal is packed with different shortcuts. Usage of educational games, online books, and comics in the classroom and at home are today’s way of turning any information into meaningful content.
Game-based learning (GBL) creates a positive experience related to learning, so the kids can accept that responsibility much easier. Using games to make new information accessible and understandable has been applied before, with various cards and board games, and it has proven to always be efficient. Today, with the new possibilities that come with technological advancements, it can be even more so. Games that communicate with the players directly with “you” are engaging the children to be the decision-makers and to adopt a virtual identity.
Any information provided without context is senseless to even an adult. Once we place it in an appropriate environment, we can get a much clearer picture. Imagine a foreign language word, read indifferently without any explanation. Now, imagine that same word depicted on the computer screen with things that are additionally describing it in a way that you can see its role in the world and its impact on other things. That is what GBL does. Additionally, a majority of today’s online books offer rich illustrations to achieve the same goal.
A study done by American Psychological Association found that, contrary to popular belief that video games are promoting intellectual laziness, they can (if chosen properly) promote a wide range of cognitive skills. Among them are: creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, higher order thinking, good sportsmanship, and teamwork.
By playing math arcades,Sudoku , connecting the dots and other games that can be found on websites such as FunBrain, the child is able to assess the lessons in a different and more productive way. Reading an online book or comics can improve reading skills and understanding of the written text.
Playing games induce positive moods and help kids to develop adaptive emotion regulation. Additionally, playing in groups with co-player or multiplayer mode is creating connections between children in groups. A study claims that, in the end, gamers are translating the pro-social skills they have learned to peer and family relations outside the gaming environment. All of this joined together, results in positive memories of learning.
At a young age, children have a short attention span, even if they do not have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Games can help kids to be interested in a topic and focus on its development. It is very difficult is to get kids to focus on a certain subject, but it can be twice as difficult to get them motivated to engage in discussion and problem solving. Games are encouraging incremental rather than entity theory of intelligence. Meaning, they are supporting the theory that believes that it is possible to accumulate intelligence through effort and hard work, contrary to entity which sees intelligence as fixed and unchangeable.
It is obvious that playing educational games and reading online can bring many benefits for kids. Still, the facilitations that adults (parents and teachers) can provide to children are absolutely essential.
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