New research finds games make for moral and ethically-minded kids

Friday, 7 June 2013 10:29 GMT By Dave Cook

New research conducted by Dr. Kathy Sanford at the University of Victoria in British Columbia has published insight into a five-year study on the impact of games on children aged 13-17. The results show that games can make children more morally and ethically inclined, among other positive traits.

The Globe and Mail reports that Sanford presented her findings around 7,000 attendees at a conference focusing on the issue of humanity.

The site asked Sanford to summarise what the study had found, “What we found was that what they were learning was a whole lot deeper and more profound than we had imagined, or that you can see from watching them. They are doing a lot of problem solving and strategising. They are learning collaboration and leadership skills.

“But the most profound thing that got me really thinking about their civic engagement is that they are actively making ethical and moral decisions all the time. They are trying out roles through the characters in the stories. If they act badly, if they choose to be evil, they see the significant results of each of the decisions they make.”

When asked about how parents might view their kids constantly playing games, Sanford added, “It’s kind of scary for adults, because we don’t really know what’s going on. We can’t see what they are doing in the same way as TV. Especially online, when you don’t know who they are talking to.

“So we have to talk to our kids about what they are doing in an interested and genuine way. Some of the characters are problematic to me, there is a lot of sexism, but we need to talk to kids about them, not just ban them.”

Polygon adds that one example from Sanford’s research involved a boy who rose up a Guild Wars 2 clan to become leader, and then apply that leadership quality to a group classroom project.

What’s your take on the above? Can exposure to games teach kids a valuable lesson? Let us know what you think below.

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