A new report published by the Joan Ganz Clooney Center at Sesame Workshop discusses the potentially positive effects of video games in educating children and promoting their physical well-being.
Game Changer: Investing in Digital Play to Advance Children’s Learning and Health urges educators as well as government and the healthcare industry to look beyond the stereotype of video games as harmful. The report also calls for increased investment in the medium:
All groups committed to the public interest—educators, policymakers, the federal government, industry leaders, philanthropies, universities—should invest resources in learning how to maximize the impact of a potentially powerful phenomenon that can advance both children's learning and health.
Because a large percentage of American youth play video games, increased investment in their positive aspects could reap enormous benefits for the next generation, the report concludes. The authors note, however, that video games are under constant scrutiny due to their perceived negative effects:
Despite their reputation as promoters of violence and mayhem, digital games have in fact been shown to help children gain content and vital foundational and 21st century skills.
While noting that some stakeholders have reservations about investing in video game tech because of the perceived sedentary nature of games and potential links to rising childhood obesity rates, the report notes the popularity of the Wii and Dance Dance Revolution. Nintendo’s popular console and Konami’s best-selling dance game franchise have helped to alter perceptions about negative physical effects of video games.
The authors also point to a number of well-established examples illustrating the potentially beneficial effects video games could have on the education and health of future American generations:
Digital games are here to stay and offer the country a rare opportunity to leverage children's already established enthusiasm in order to reform education and promote healthy development.
GP: With this article we welcome Doug Buffone to the pages of GamePolitics. Doug, a student at Georgetown, is interning with GP's parent company, the Entertainment Consumers Association.