BusinessToday Previous Editions

BUSINESS TODAY 22 September 2022

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 11 of 11

5.12.19 12 OPINION 22.9.2022 Alexiei Dingli Prof Alexiei Dingli is a Professor of AI at the University of Malta and has been conducting research and working in the field of AI for more than two decades, assisting different companies to implement AI solutions. He forms part of the Malta.AI task-force, set up by the Maltese government, aimed at making Malta one of the top AI countries in the world Are computer games a waste of time? T he impact of computer games, especially on young players, has been contentious since the begin- ning. We all recognize that play is a cru- cial phase in human development, hence why small children spend most of their time playing. ey learn new concepts, explore possibilities in a safe environ- ment, participate in role plays and hone their lifelong skills. But at one point, par- ents start viewing play as an utter waste of time and try to wean their children off it in favor of more "educational" tasks. is passage is rather sad because, let's face it, play is a fun way of learning new concepts. So why shouldn't our system infuse together education and play, thus making it fun while reducing the learning effort? e reasons are mul- tiple; first, it is easier said than done. ere have been countless efforts to create edutainment systems that reach both objectives. e truth is that most of these systems are more educational than entertaining, thus failing miser- ably on the fun aspect, and the initial excitement soon wades away. e sec- ond is that the effort required to create a fun environment while integrating educational content is somewhat over- whelming. Very few educators suc- cessfully reconcile the two objectives, especially with older children. ird, many computer games have reached a high level of realism, and their quali- ty is comparable to Holywood movies. However, although educators can easi- ly use their content for learning activi- ties, few gaming studios allow this, and even fewer make the leap towards edu- cation. So, unfortunately, many adults do not see the potential between edu- cation and gaming. However, a few months back, a Swed- ish institute decided to study children's screen habits and correlate them to their cognitive abilities over time. is is a crucial topic since screen time is increasing worldwide, and children start consuming digital content from a tender age. Over 9,000 children aged between nine and ten participated in the study, and all underwent rigorous psychological tests. ese tests allowed the researchers to gauge their level of intelligence be- fore the start of the research project. Furthermore, the children had to note the time spent watching TV or online videos, engaging on social media, and playing video games. eir parents also validated the information provided. Two years later, the children were contacted and asked to repeat the same psychological test, thus allowing researchers to note changes over time. To try to make the study as impartial as possible, the researchers took note of genetic differences, social back- ground, educational support at home, and household income since these fac- tors can affect intelligence. e study revealed that children spent around 2.5 hours watching TV, an hour on social media, and another hour playing video games daily. Interestingly, children who played more games than average increased their intelligence by around 2.5 IQ points more than the rest. On the oth- er hand, TV-watching or social media consumption resulted in no significant change. Of course, it is essential to note that the study did not delve into other is- sues like the effect on physical activity, sleep, well-being, and school perfor- mance, all of which can be negatively affected by excessive gaming. But it does show that, in general, screen time doesn't impact the child's cognitive abilities negatively and that playing video games boosts intelligence. is result is also in line with other studies conducted worldwide. Because of this, countries worldwide are considering introducing video games into the national curriculum. Poland is one such country that recent- ly launched a "Games in Education" initiative. e idea behind it is to har- ness the popularity of specific games and use it to make students reflect on past historical events. One such exam- ple uses the Polish game "is War of Mine". In contrast to existing war games, the player does not interact as an elite sol- dier but as a civilian trying to survive a city under siege. He has to struggle with the hardships of war, including lack of food, medicine, and constant danger from enemy soldiers. e game provides the player with a whole new war experience, as seen from a pre- viously unexplored civilian angle. rough such an experience, students learn to understand the effects of a conflict on a nation and its inhabitants. Whereas schools used games haphaz- ardly in past years, the country decid- ed to formally include them as part of the reading list for the first time. In this case, the government bought a license for every child and gave every student access to the online game. e devel- opers also worked with the educators to create guidelines and lesson plans to help teachers prepare engaging les- sons. Video games can offer a robust learn- ing environment that engages students. It can help them understand concepts otherwise challenging to grasp from traditional media. Most games offer the player a variety of skills ranging from decision-making to fast problem-solv- ing. In essence, a game is a tool that can help us improve ourselves, but it all depends on how we use it!

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of BusinessToday Previous Editions - BUSINESS TODAY 22 September 2022