Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Teachers reject 'educational' video games claim

Head teachers reject the report suggesting video games have educational benefits. Photo / Supplied
Head teachers reject the report suggesting video games have educational benefits. Photo / Supplied

Head teachers have rejected an industry report which suggests video games have educational benefits.

The NZ Secondary Principals' Association has warned that video games can cause more harm than good to educational development.

The Digital New Zealand 2012 report, by Queensland's Bond University, found 79 per cent of Kiwi parents with children under 18 play video games themselves.

Ninety per cent of this group also did so with their children, and three in four parents actively using games as an educational tool.

The report found that parents believed some video games helped their children better understand technology, maths, science, planning and language.

The Interactive Gaming and Entertainment Association, which represents the video game industry, commissioned the report.

Association director Mark Goodacre said:

"A lot of parents now grew up with games, so I think they understand the difference between an educational game and a game that's just played for pleasure."

But Secondary Principals' Association president Patrick Walsh said the negatives of video games often outweighed positives. Schools had noticed some students who played a lot of video games had limited vocabulary and concentration problems.

"There are lots of adverse effects of playing video games, and simply just by putting an educational tag on it, doesn't in our view demonstrate that it has any educational value at all." Digital New Zealand 2012 was based on a random sample of 846 New Zealand households, with information collected by Nielsen.

Auckland dad John Clark says that although he plays video games with his two young boys about once a week, there are times when he feels like getting rid of the family Xbox and computer.

Mr Clark said Hunter, 5, and MacAllister, 9, were allowed educational games such as Mathletics during the week, but could play normal games only at the weekend.

While he agreed there were educational benefits to the video games his children played, Mr Clark said he was careful to limit the time they spent in front of the machines.

"It can be difficult, because often if you've got other things to do, computer games are great at keeping everyone quiet.

"It keeps them up with the latest technology because before long they'll be using iPads and laptops at schools, and I want them to keep up with that side of things."

- NZ Herald

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