Effect of Computer-Based Video Games on Children: An Experimental Study

Article excerpt

Introduction

The use of multimedia in education has significantly changed people's learning processes. Results from a number of research studies indicate that appropriately designed multimedia instruction enhances students' learning performance in science, mathematics, and literacy (Gee, 2003).

Previous studies indicate that computer-assisted instruction (CAI) programs have important factors that can motivate, challenge, increase curiosity and control, and promote fantasy in children (Tzeng, 1999). Despite the fact that computer and video games have the same multimedia capability as CAI programs, their potential learning impact is often discounted by parents and educators. Recently, computer-based video games' presence and popularity have been ever-growing, and game developers and researchers have started to investigate video games' impact on students' cognitive learning (Begg, Dewhurst, & Macleod, 2005; Squire, 2003; Vaupel, 2002). For example, Pillay commenced a study investigating the influence of recreational computer games on children's subsequent performance on instructional tasks (Pillay, 2002). While game-playing is regarded somewhat negative in educational settings, particularly for young children, re-scrutinization of its influence in a teaching and learning context is crucial.

This study investigated whether computer-based video games facilitate children's cognitive learning achievement. In comparison to traditional CAI programs, this study explored the impact of the varied types of instructional delivery strategies on children's learning achievement.

Research results from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Children's Digital Media Centers (Rideout, Vandewater, & Wartella, 2003) found that children in the United States are growing up with media and are spending hours a day watching television and videos, using computers, and playing video games. According to the findings, today's children are starting to be exposed to technologies and media at a much younger age than previously thought. Therefore, educators' investigations become critical concerning the impact of technologies and media on children's development. This study investigates two main questions: (1) Can computer-based video games be instructional tools in early childhood education? (2) Should instructional strategies be modified to fit into young children's media experience?

Most previous research studies related to computer-based video games focused on the discussions of psychological study and child behavior (Provenzo, 1991; Squire, 2003). In psychological study, research results indicated that video games can promote hand-eye coordination, visual scanning, auditory discrimination, and spatial skills (Johnson, Christie, & Yawkey, 1999; Lisi & Wolford, 2002). For child behavior, evidence showed that violent video games may raise children's aggressive play and violent behaviors (Funk, 2001). Separate from previous research, this study discusses computer-based video games from an educational perspective by exploring the following issues: (1) How might some of the motivating aspects of computer-based video games be harnessed to facilitate learning? (2) How might motivational components of popular computer-based video games be integrated into instructional design?

Research null hypothesis

Based upon the aforementioned purpose of study, one major research null hypothesis may be drawn. That is, there are no statistically significant differences in students' achievement when they receive two different instructional treatments: (1) traditional CAI; and (2) a computer-based video game.

Methods

Participants

The chosen participants were from a middle/high socio-economic standard school district in Tainan City, Taiwan. One hundred and eight third-graders participated in the study, 61 male students and 54 female students. The learning prerequisite for participants was the ability to use basic computer tools and Internet-browsing resources. …