Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Press A, Press B- It will make you smarter!

Kids love video games, it's pretty obvious. The gaze in their eyes as their minds get sucked in the game, how their usually locked up in a dark room and their no attention span to anything around them. These are the usual effects video games have on kids while they are playing. They are non-stop gamers that can't put the controller down. "I have to beat this level mom," is probably the most common sentence they will say in hours. Games are useless, or are they? Can they really make you smarter?

Research conducted at the University of Rochester has shown that action video games can give a person the ability to monitor more objects in their visual field and do so faster than a person who doesn't play such games. "Players can process visual information more quickly and can track 30% more objects than nonplayers," says Daphne Bavelier, associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences, and member of the Center for Visual Science.

Shawn Green, a student of Daphne Bavelier, recognised the link between video games and visual attention. Both of them tested games like "Grand Theft Auto 3", "Medal of Honor", and "Half Life" with gamers and non-gamers.

In the first test, the conductor would flash a small object on screen for 1/160th of a second, and the participant would indicate where it flashed. If you didn't pay attention you wouldn't know where the object flashed. The gamers noticed the object far more than non-gamers. The second test had one to 12 small objects on screen at once and the participant had to type how many objects they'd seen. The gamers saw the objects more often. In the last test, there were black letters flashed in a very rapid pace. One letter was white, and it may or may not have been followed by a black 'X'. Gamers picked out which letter was white and whether or not an 'X' followed it compared to non-gamers.

This study shows that the brain can be trained to see more attentively. In video games you work at solving a series of puzzles which exercises your brain because your brain is like a big muscle. If you use your brain, it will get stronger. If you don't then it won't be very useful.
Now they even made games with math problems and tricky mazes that give a major work to your brain. The top 10 games that will make you smart(er) are:

10. Hot Brain (PSP)
9. Re-Mission (PC)
8. Tetris DS (DS)
7. The New York Times Crosswords (DS)
6. Brain Age 2 (DS)
5. SimCity DS (DS)
4. Math Blaster (PC)
3. Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree (Wii)
2. Big Brain Academy (DS)
1. Brain Age (DS)

The next time your mother asks you why you are playing video games and not doing your homework, just tell her video games make you smarter and they're more fun.

*My old colour killed my eyes.



Anonymous said...

Well, things like "leap frog" video games have been proven to help kids read and what not. But I don't think video games that allow children to be involved in car chases and ever KILLING cops are in any way helping kids. It's just making a greater criminalistic society.

lessinbeen said...

computers, books, movies, music, environment all do the same thing, influence.

lessinbeen said...

that totally inclued video games! (my bad)

tanya o said...

children get influenced everyday by things they see or hear. Video games i believe is a big impact aswell as books, t.v shows, etc..

ALEX said...

when you are really young everything influences you, your mind soaks up everything like a spounge. You may be learning good things eg. Leap Frog like Janee said, or bad things from Grand Theft Auto.

Sonya!AtTheDisco said...

Yes, of course they influence you but do you think video games will make you smarter? Have you ever played video games and do you react differently after playing?

ah-leks said...

To be honest..I really don't think that video games should be around in order for a child to learn..it should be something they do when their bored. And I mean I know it makes sense to think "well they can have fun while playing and learn at the same time"...but that "learning" is not the same, and will never measure up to the learning they are supposed to recieve at school. And I know that theory does not apply to kids that have ADHD or any other learning disability but at the same time games like leap frog can only teach them so much, and who knows if they will grab on to games like Grand Theft Auto when they're older, they are just beginning to develop a gaming habit at such a young age anyway.Funny how children can be addicted to video games and computers but never to books...

Brandon said...

Thank you so much! I really like when people recognize the potential of video games. I STRONGLY disagree with ah-leks. I play video games a lot and have learnt a lot from them. I think that I'd be dumber if I never played video games. Obviously video games aren't a replacement for school, but that doesn't mean that you can't learn extremely helpful things. Video games are easier to get addicted to because of their vast possibilities. They can do anything a book can do and more.

I'm sort of surprised that RPGs and strategy games haven't been mentioned at all. I've played many RPGs that have managed to stump me either because of a tough boss or a difficult puzzle. In those kind of games you've got to think about basically every move you make. A lot of people don't understand video games. They just think it's pushing buttons. I'd personally take video games over books any day. There should be a video game course in high school, but I doubt the board would ever see the potentials.

kelsey =] said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kelsey =] said...

I agree with aleks, video games are a more fun aspect of learning but they will for sure not measure up to the amount of knowledge you will gain in school. Like Jane said, games like leap frog have helped kids learn a lot, but games like grand theft auto, or halo or anything like that aren't going to help them learn very much.

Anonymous said...

Well, it'll help them learn to be juvenile delinquents.

Honestly though, I think kids should be taught my adults. I admit, technology has helped us greatly, but it shouldn't raise our kids for us too.

DavidParker said...

Personally, I think video games are awesome at teaching a few things, of course, the learning from video games probably won't ever compare to what another person can teach you, but, no one's trying to say it does, games have all sorts of various puzzles to solve, but, they add the aspect of fun as well, so much so, that sometimes people don't even know they're learning, maybe the skills aren't always very valuable, or don't help you lead a successful life, but learning is still learning, and it'll come in handy at some point.

ah-leks said...

What about history though? So many great people did not have video games to get them learning, it was done the "old" way, by getting a book and reading. What if 30 years from now, people got lazy and replaced books for video games? I bet a lame excuse like "it saves the enviroment" would pop up and people would agree, but then it would fail because we cannot depend on technology so much. So why do i think books are better? because their information cannot be altered, it's not as interactive as a videogame is, which is a good thing! There is no need to enjoy learning sooo much that you combine it with playtime. Multi tasking maybe helpful in a grown ups life, but definetley not a child's, learning should be strictly seperated from play just so the child is focused on one thing. But just so everyone knows, "Its all about balance, and keeping that perspective."
I'm not saying video games are bad! But they will never ever amount to teaching.

чℓℓzล said...

i agree i think video games can make children smarter i mean what child wants to sit down and read a book now a days.. instead they want to play and have fun and if learning can be fun then why not ...video games do make children smarter but to an extent like Jane said " technology shouldn't riase our kids too"

Sonya!AtTheDisco said...

obviously replacing video games with books wont make you smarter..my point is that it will help your mind develop so you think smarter and act smarter because playing a video game is like a massive puzzle..if you dont get that pot of gold this time then you try again with a different stragedy.

jessica12312 said...

Personally, I think video games acting as a sort of virtual teacher is an amazing idea. If videos games are as attractive to kids as Sonya has explained and we all obviously know they are, its a wonderful connection to match the attraction of video games and incorporate a learning aspect.

I think to understand how video games make kids smarter, you need too look beyond what the game is about/based on, whether it be a driving game or shooting game, and look at what technical skills, rather than moral skills the kids are learning.

If video games have the capability to enhance someones eye scanning abilities of a screen, imagine how this could benefit them when learning how to drive. Myself currently involved in driving school have learned alot about the importance of scanning the road to ensure your safety. My driving instructor taught me that every three seconds something up the road ahead of you is changing and may potentially be a hazard. Being able to predict these changes can be life saving and it takes a quick eye to be able to scan an entire area and analyze it in a few critical seconds. Reflexes and response time going from the eyes to the fingers/hands are also exercised, which allows a driver to make split second reactions.

Video games don't only have to provide kids with school smarts but can also be beneficial in that they also exercise everyday skills. Video games provide an interactive learning which is more than a book can teach. It provides visual, audio and occasionally touch/physical stimulation as in the Nintendo Wii. In including each of these senses simultaniously the brain must remain attentive.

"A while ago, the science writer Steven Johnson was looking at an old IQ test known as the "Raven Progressive Matrices." Developed in the 1930s, it shows you a set of geometric shapes and challenges you to figure out the next one in the series. It's supposed to determine your ability to do abstract reasoning, but as Johnson looked at the little cubic Raven figures, he was struck by something: They looked like Tetris.

A light bulb went off. If Tetris looked precisely like an IQ test, then maybe playing Tetris would help you do better at intelligence tests. Johnson spun this conceit into his brilliant book of last year, Everything Bad Is Good For You, in which he argued that video games actually make gamers smarter."

Video games may not measure up to a school's level of teaching, but I believe the more learning you can squeeze into a kids day, the better the future they create will succeed.

Brandon said...

Wow, Jessica's post is amazing (and one of the few posts that aren't bashing video games). I agree with a lot of Jessica's statements. Video games really can help with things like driving. There are a lot of video game simulations that act as the real thing. There are flight simulators, driving simulators and much more. One of the things I really dislike is that whenever people think about video games they usually think of some violent game like GTA or Halo. There are millions of other video games out there, but they focus in on one specific genre. Then they say video games don't teach you anything without trying to analyze them properly. Video games don't get enough positive credit.

Harinder said...

I personally play video games. I think that there are many things within these video games that will influence people if you let them. However, just because they do influence some, it is the person’s responsibility to have ultimate control. When a child plays video games they are more receptive to the influences, then older more mature “video-gamers”. For example a 5 year old should not be playing Grand Theft Auto 4 because of its extreme violence that can influence the younger audience. The children who are under the influence, are those which are not the common purchaser of the games, making it the parents who are buying the video games for them. The younger audience picks up the bad habits such as curse words, criminal activity, etc from the video game. Video games are seen as entertainment but not as the negative impact as they truly are. There are studies that show that the brain can be trained to see more attentively, by watching video games, is true. When an individual is playing video games they are into the game and there is a lot of puzzle solving, and other things going on which can make your brain develop and become stronger. Some games have so much going on that they make the brain attentive and cautious, not only for the game, but for long-term. Overall my belief is that video games do make children smarter.

Harinder said...

Interesting Article:

]ΛvΛЯіччΛ said...

Well, I think you can always find little poisitives in almost everything..just like positives in playing video games. I'm sure, like Sonya mentioned in her blog, there a lot of ways in which video games make a person smarter, especially the "leap fron' ones that Jane mentioned. And like Sonya said: "obviously replacing video games with books wont make you smarter." However, if people HAVE to play video games, it's nice to know that they're getting something useful out of it. Not being a gamer myself, I would've never really thought of that. Like Brandon said:"whenever people think about video games they usually think of some violent game like GTA or Halo."

However, the negative thing I see about the increasing popularity of games that claim to make kids smarter like "leap frog" and what not, is that many parents might really take that to heart. They'll put their kids in front of say leap frog (which is probably better than putting them in front most TV shows-so that's gud) but they don't really think that even if kids do pick up some gud things from the game, they'll learn more and be much more healthier if they were to spend that same time going outside and playing. Especially for little kids, i think that getting them hooked on video games at such a young age isn't a great habit. Interacting with real people and real things is a lot more important and they'll get more out of it--at least i think so. But the occasional video game is gud.

]ΛvΛЯіччΛ said...

Here's an article I found:
Video Games and Obesity, Best Evidence Yethttp://www.healthcentral.com/drdean/408/60891.html
But since this article came outin 2004, it doesn't really consider the Nintendi Wii, but still...not all kids have the Nintendo Wii so it's still totally relevant

]ΛvΛЯіччΛ said...

Here is a REALLY interesting article:


It talks about how video games can be used to help teach kids to eat healthier.
“One area where Baranowski does hold some optimism is in the development of computer games that are designed to teach children how to set physical activity and dietary goals. One, designed for Grade 4 students, encourages game-players to join a battle against invaders that are destroying the kingdom's fruit and vegetable crops.
"We found that this game had kids eating one whole extra serving of fruits and vegetables a day," he said.”

This is pretty much proof of how much kids can be influenced by video games, like a lot of ppl in the blog mentioned. In this case, it is making the kids playing this game smarter because they're “learning” to make better eating choices.

tanja said...

well i'm sure video games can make you smarter.. but to a certain point. sure, younger kids are going to enjoy playing these innocent games that teach math skills, vocabulary skills, history, and anything health related, but what happens when the kids grow older? i know that i wouldn't want to play any educational games.. i'm in school for about 7ish hours five days of the week, i have 2 days off each week and a short-lived 2 month summer break, im going to be steering FAR FAR AWAY from anytihng related to learning/school that type of thing. so of course im going to indulge in a game that probably has NO useful message at all. so these educational games help up tp a certain point.. until the kid grows out of them and starts playing all these useful games that are simply just for enjoyment and relaxation more than anything else.

jessica12312 said...

Some articles relating to my point that video games improve vision:

Video Games Improve Vision

Video-Game Killing Builds Visual Skills, Researchers Report

And other interesting articles:

Video Games Improve Reading Scores for Children with ADHD

"Video games let their players step into new personas and explore alternatives. Not only that, but people can try to solve problems they’re not good at yet, get immediate feedback on the consequences and try again immediately."
- James Gee (UW professor)

Matt Dean said...

I thought that games helped make you have better hand eye co-ordination or pick things up faster.

I did notice that i have increased reflexes the other day because when me and my buddys played paintball at the cameron speed way off fruitland, i dodged a couple of paintballs coming at my head (mind you that paintballs go at 280 feet per second bullets travel at 1000 feet a second) and i actually managed to catch one (that hurt though)(probably pure luck too).

Matt Dean said...

Actually i messed up on the speed of a bullet
(Depends on the caliber, the amount and type of powder, and the bullet weight. Most rifle calibers travel at supersonic speeds. The "crack" you hear is a mini sonic boom. Most handgun calibers travel much slower than that. Average speed for a 9mm handgun round is about 1100 feet per second. Some large caliber rifle rounds travel at speeds up to and beyond 4000 feet per second.)
(Hurray for the useless information i know)

but yea video games increase your knowledge to some degree, books and others teach you more.