Prosocial Behavior

There have been several researchers who have proposed the potential benefits of video games in children, including promoting prosocial behavior. Benefits include cognitive development as well as supporting psychological welfare (Randoff). Video games have also been known to promote hand eye-coordination as well as visual motor skills. Resistance to distractions and the ability to concentrate on a task for long periods of time have also been noted in recent years (Green).

Video games have also been known to promote team work in children, especially since the birth of the internet with computer games and services like Xbox Live. Children can communicate and work together to achieve common goals. Multiplayer capabilities have also supported competitiveness in young minds, which according to Randoff is extremely important in the healthy development of children.

Dr. Randoff also supports the idea that video games can actually make children smarter. He asks a very intriguing, and in my opinion, valid question: “Is it a coincidence that ‘nerds’ often possess an interest in computer games, as well as have an aptitude for subjects like maths and science?” I don’t think it is a coincidence. Dr. Randoff also presents another interesting prosocial benefit of video games which is the teaching potential of video games. Tangential learning in other words. I would have to agree with this because I have personal experience in this area. I owe my extensive knowledge of geography (especially the European continent) to the game of Risk (a global domination game that originally started as a board game but was later transferred to a video game). I may know all the good choke points for tanks but I could also tell you exactly where Belgium is on a map.

Computer games are unique to other video game platforms in promoting prosocial behavior because they require the use of text in most cases. Children are learning to write and communicate this way better than ever before. I for one have played computer games my whole life and owe a lot of my literacy skills to communicating over the internet via video games. I can also say that I would not be nearly as skilled of a typist if it were not for computer games. The ability to type quickly and accurately is an invaluable skill in the 21st century. Also, computer games helped my computer literacy as well. I am very familiar with Windows and PCs in general thanks to computer games.

References:

Green, Shawn. Action Video Game Modifies Visual Selective Attention. Nature: International Weekly Journal Of Science. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v423/n6939/full/nature01647.html

Randoff, Jon. Six Wonderful Things About Games. Jon Radoff’s Internet Wonderland. http://radoff.com/blog/2009/12/08/six-wonderful-things-about-games/

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