Gaming for Good
The past few years I've noticed a trend in games designed to promote positive action, from fundraising to problem solving. As the mother of a teenage boy I know how competitive and aggressive the video games popular with our youth can be. I'm not against all games per se, I can see how some may help kids with skills such as problem solving and creativity. On the other hand, those games that encourage violence and other objectionable material decrease empathy in our youth. As the bullying epidemic in American schools continues to grow, I was interested to hear about the research of Laboratory Director Richard Davidson. He uses neuroscience research to study the effects of games on brain function.
Realizing that by the time kids reach the eight grade nearly all of them are playing video and computer games that emphasize violence and aggression, Davidson decided to design games to teach kindness and compassion. One of the prototypes will help students detect and interpret emotions in others by reading non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and body posture. Therefore, increasing ability to empathize with others. The project is being funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which focuses on preparing U.S. students for college readiness-possessing the skills and knowledge to go on to post-secondary education. Davidson explains, "Skills of mindfulness and kindness are very important for college readiness. Mindfulness, because it cultivates the capacity to regulate attention, which is the building block for all kinds of learning; and kindness, because the ability to cooperate is important for everything that has to do with success in life, team-building, leadership, and so forth."
I've so often complained about the amount of time my son spends on video games. Now I can just visualize the day we encourage our kids to play!