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More schools today than ever before are integrating digital tools inside the classroom and out. Through the use of online homework, virtual simulations, and educational videos, teachers are attempting to hold onto their students’ attentions in a world dominated by technological progress and innovation. One class of products in particular has sparked a great deal of disagreement among teachers regarding its integration in the classroom — video games.

While some teachers believe that video games could be a useful platform to reinforce concepts, others are more skeptical about the games’ long-term benefits. Is playing video games an alternative avenue to convey material to children of this generation, or is it simply a mind numbing activity with no benefits to speak of? A new study by Ruhr University in Germany attempted to answer this question.

Teens playing video games together.

Image Source: Ezra Bailey

The study looked at the neural activity of the brain in a test group of frequent gamers and another group of non-gamers. Each group was assigned a weather prediction task, which asks individuals to sort cards into piles based on their association with different weather conditions. As they worked with the cards, the group members were each scanned with a 3 Tesla MRI machine, which displayed areas of high and low brain activity through functional imaging. The results from the study showed that video gamers had higher activity in areas of the brain connected with memory and attention compared to non-gamers; this suggests that video games may improve an individual’s learning potential in certain areas.

Although the question of whether to allow children to play video games for multiple hours a day is still controversial, this research argues that banning them altogether may not be necessary. In general, various kinds of activities have the ability to stimulate a child’s learning potential, priming the brain to better absorb richer and denser material later on. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of technological advancements can help parents develop a healthy balance of digital exposure for their children.

Featured Image Source: tex playing video games by RebeccaPollard

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