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New research reveals video games benefit education and mental health

12.08.2020

Playing video games had a positive effect on children throughout lockdown, according to a study published today by the National Literacy Trust.

Survey responses from young people suggest that playing video games provided more than just entertainment benefits, with participants revealing improvements in their literacy skills and creative thinking.

The research – carried out as part of a joint campaign from the National Literacy Trust, the Association of UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie) and Penguin Random House Children’s – aims to explore the relationship between video games and literacy engagement amongst school children.

The role of video games in supporting young people’s mental health was also key during the pandemic, with more than half of parents* reporting that their child socialised with family and friends through video gaming. Three in five parents also said these interactions improved their children’s wellbeing.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, said: “Games are a fantastic way to inspire creativity, encourage exploration of worlds and characters, and to get young people talking with friends or family.

“We look forward to working with our partners to build on this work to show the positive impact of games as a medium.”

The benefits of playing video games were strongest for boys and reluctant readers, with twice as many boys revealing that they chatted with family and friends through video gaming during lockdown. Three in four reluctant readers, meanwhile, said video games made them feel “part of a story”. 

Jonathan Douglas, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust, said it was exciting to “uncover” the opportunities that video games can provide young people.

He added: “COVID-19 has significantly disrupted young people’s literacy and learning in recent months, and we want to ensure that no stone is left unturned when it comes to identifying new and innovative ways to support children’s literacy when they return to school in September.”

Game developers have centralised their efforts into providing free education throughout lockdown – most notably Minecraft – who released free education packs for children in March.

To support the findings, the Family Video Gaming Database has published a list of recommended video games to assist children’s literacy, while a collection of video game-inspired reads for young people is available on the Literacy Trust’s website. 

You can also check out Parent Zone’s summer reading list for kids, tweens and teens to get even the most unenthusiastic readers turning the pages. 

*The joint campaign surveyed 4,626 young people aged 11-16 and 826 parents of 11-18-year-olds. 

Image: Aleksandra/stock.adobe.com


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