British Columbia, Canada (CBS DC) — A new study conducted by the University of Victoria in Canada finds that children who play video games become more ethically and morally aware over time.
The five-year study was conducted by professor Dr. Kathy Sanford, and focused on young people aged 13 to 17, analyzing what lessons, if any, games were teaching children. The children were also analyzed in regards to leadership and problem-solving skills affected by their gaming.
“What we found was that what they were learning was a whole lot deeper and more profound than we had imagined,” said Dr. Sanford, speaking to The Globe and Mail. “They are doing a lot of problem solving and strategizing. They are learning collaboration and leadership skills.”
Specifically, Professor Sanford says that the children in the study saw a strong causal effect between actions and their consequences, and thought a lot about problem solving in a pro-active way. “They have to negotiate with team-members and understand strengths and weaknesses and working with others. Players report a lot more happening than randomly going around shooting people”
Sanford says that although she recognises that parents are often sceptical about their children playing videogames she believes that “balance is critical”: “People criticize gaming because it is sedentary. But we wouldn’t be upset if those kids were reading a book.”
The research is in stark contrast to popular opinion on videogames, which often provides a convenient conduit for media figures and others looking to create moral panics, or explain children’s poor behavior. Sanford’s opinion on the issue was simplistic, stressing that worried parents should “talk to [their] kids about what they are doing in an interested and genuine way.”