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Over the years, technology has evolved a great deal forcing us to go along with it. Times when forms of entertainment were limited to sports, reading, listening to music, or watching television are slowly being replaced by a new generation of computer and video games. These are a special form of entertainment since they allow players to be a part of the game. Players get the chance to be characters they want to be. A lot of young people today find playing computer and video games as a normal part of the day (Gikow, 2009).

Today’s refined games give an opportunity for players to participate in the game actively rather than passively, like watching a movie. This has both positive and negative effects on children. In this investigative research, I will look at the negative influence of computer games on the children today and the misleading educational claims by the manufactures. I will focus my research on one of the most popular computer games.

Computer Games Definition

Computer games, also called PC games, are games that are played on personal computer and are created by game designers who are often aided by specialists known as game artists. They are then published and circulated in CDs, DVDs, available for playing online, or Internet downloadable (Gladwell, 2000). 

Educational Programming

Educational programming is a program printed by the ministry of education that regulates the learning progress of every subject in all steps of formal education. They can be created in graphics so as to attract the children. They are intended to teach children basic programming in an interesting and involving manner. In order to enhance educational programming, various legislations need to be applied to ensure streamline learning. Legislation can be defined as an enacted law by either a governing body or the legislature. In education, some legislation gives guidance to the learning programs, for example, FCC Guidelines of 1996 and the Children’s Television Act of 1990 among others (Gikow, 2009). The Children’s Television Act of 1990 was enacted by the Federal Communications Commission and requires every full-time television station that offered television programming for kids in the United States to provide education and information to children throughout its programming (Gladwell, 2000).

On other hand, the FCC Guidelines of 1996 provide mandate to the transmitting sites in the United States to meet obligatory regulations. However, even though there are various legislations which control education programming, there are various manufactures that provide misleading games to the children. As a result, it became very difficult for education programs to control these wrongdoings.

Sesame Workshop

Sesame Workshop is a global American non-profit organization that produces education programs, which are very vital to the children. Lloyd Morrisett and Joan Ganz Cooney founded this organization in 1960, and since its commencement, it has been providing updated series of education programs to children. These programs have been widely accepted in the United States and around the globe. The main objectives of Sesame Workshop are to provide children with the reasoning skills, emotional skills, and pre-reading skills among others. All of these are intended to create a favorable leaning environment and to enable smooth children’s education programs.

Criticisms of Sesame

A lot of educators have criticized the Sesame Workshop by saying that its format will stimulate to shortening children’s attention spans. This criticism has been known to exist during more than forty years. Other criticism claims that it can distort expectation for learning by coming with distinct education programs from the legislature programs. In addition, there is other criticism that claims that Sesame Workshop cannot work autonomously without an aid of a teacher. This means that a child cannot rely on Sesame Workshop alone, he/she must look for teacher guidance (Gikow, 2009).

LeapPad & Leapster Explorer Learning Game

LeapPad & Leapster Explorer Game is a game that claims to focus on the mathematics skills of a player by asking him or her to think their way out of danger using geometry, fractions, and decimals. It is suggested to be suitable for children over six years (Gladwell, 2000).

Educational Claims

  • Helps students to master the skills that are necessary for a lifetime of learning.
  • Leapster Explorer is handheld, which makes it easier to play at any convenient time.  
  • Easily adjustable to personal needs of its users, for example, dynamic leveling is available so that the students can be challenged at their own pace.
  • An option of individualized learning as well as rather interesting and absorbing environment greatly assists in one’s independent learning so that they can fulfill their potential.
  • The Leapster Explorer Grade Level Mobile Learning Centers are engaged in facilitating the use of this technology in the classroom. These centers managed to combine learning games with up-to-date graphics, interesting environments, and popular characters so that the students are motivated to work their way through reading, spelling, mathematics, critical-thinking, and social science curricula.
  • A game called Blues Clues, which is included in the package, claims to challenge and even bring self-esteem to preschoolers.

How Do I Verify Claims?

  • Involve Experts – There are people who have studied and know a lot about computer games. One way of finding out if the claims are true is to ask them and find out what they have to say.
  • Targeted viewer – Who is this particular game aimed for? By finding out whom the manufacturer had in mind when inventing the game, it becomes easier to see if the claims work on the target consumer.
  • Realistic Curriculum – This enables one to see if what the computer game is claiming to teach the consumer can be used at school and if it may help the player with his or her school work.
  • Negative attributes – Another way of verifying the educational claims is to see the other side of the claims and how they may affect the player. For example, in the process of learning, a player can pick up bad attributes like obscene language and violence among others.
  • Side effects – Research has shown that children who spend a lot of time playing computer games may develop a number of health complications.

Research Study

Study conducted by Anderson & Dill (2000) shows that students who concentrate more on computer and video games tend to neglect both their academic and social life. They spend more time indoors other than doing such activities as homework, sports, or even interacting with the family. They build their own fantasy world and sometimes they are not even able to differentiate between fantasy and reality. According to Anderson & Bushman (2001), children who play a lot of games that contain violence are likely to have and develop aggressive views, feelings, and actions and are often left out of the social activity (Gikow, 2009).

A scientific study revealed that the effect of violence in video games in children is made worse by the games’ interactive nature. A lot of games reward the player for being extra violent. Violence is repeated a lot in those games, and the child is being fully in control of it. There is shooting, stabbing, and blood spattering all over, which gives the player an adrenaline rushes of excitement. 

Even though playing computer games is greatly applauded for bombarding the children with an opportunity to learn different aspects of life, parents should guide their children in these games. Parents should make available other entertainment options to prevent these kids from computer games’ addiction. For instance, reading books, interacting with family members and friends, and watching relevant TV programs are some of the best complements to playing computer games. Parents should also limit the amount of time children spend on playing PC games and apply computer game ratings to control the content of the games the children can access.

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