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Video Games And Your Child’s Health: Surprising Results From New Study

Video Games And Your Child’s Health: Surprising Results From New Study

Do you feel that video games are bad for your children, yet they absolutely love them? Are you a bad parent for letting them play video games? Well, a new study says you aren’t. In fact, recent data suggests playing video games could actually have positive effects.

Research Says Positive Correlation May Exist

Researchers at Columbia University and Paris Descartes University have been studying the association between the average time spent playing video games and the mental health, cognition, and social skills of young children.

The study adjusted for a multitude of factors, including gender, number of kids, and age. After reviewing the results, the research team identified that a high usage of video games typically means a child has 1.75 times the chances of “optimum intellectual capacity.” Additionally, that same child has 1.88 times the odds of “high general competence in school.”

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Even more importantly, the study wasn’t able to identify any significant negative impacts on mental health (as reported by the child, parents, or teachers).

“Video game playing is often a collaborative leisure time activity for school-aged children. These results indicate that children who frequently play video games may be socially cohesive with peers and integrated into the school community,” said Katherine M. Keyes, PhD, one of the study’s primary authors. “We caution against over interpretation, however, as setting limits on screen usage remains an important component of parental responsibility as an overall strategy for student success.”

Keyes went on to add that it’s the children who don’t engage with their friends and peers around gaming that are more at risk for developing problems. In other words, if children are exposed to the right games and put in social gaming situations, everything is generally fine. It’s when they become secluded and distanced from their peers that issues seem to arise.

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Encouraging Healthy Gaming Behaviors In Kids

With this new research in mind, it shouldn’t be a parent’s goal to completely eliminate all video game usage. Instead, parents should be focused on encouraging healthy social gaming behaviors.

If children are playing games on a dedicated video game console, parents should be referencing a source like Common Sense Media, which helps them set guidelines. If children are playing online games, choosing a safe and friendly platform, such as Poptropica, is much preferred over giving them free reign to surf the web.

As previously mentioned, the key is to get children involved with others. Social gameplay gives kids a common tool for conversation and bonding, whereas isolated gameplay encourages children to function in an alternative universe that is neither healthy nor educational.

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Despite the study’s results, Keyes wants parents to be careful with the takeaway.

“I want to be sure that we’re not suggesting in this study that parents should let kids play unlimited video games because it’s good for their mental health. That’s not what we’re saying.”

High volume video game playing certainly isn’t healthy, if for no other reason than it encourages a sedentary lifestyle. However, if children are playing just 30 or 40 minutes of video games each day, there’s no data to suggest it’ll have a negative cognitive impact. In fact, if you go by this study, it may have a positive impact.

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Let Children Play

Video game usage among children is all about balance. Are the children also spending time playing outside, communicating with friends, and eating healthy? Are their grades on par with their peers? If children seem to be checking out on all other fronts, don’t automatically assume that video games are having a negative effect. It’s possible that these short gaming sessions with friends are actually keeping them engaged.

Featured photo credit: Seth Werkheiser via flic.kr

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Anna Johansson

Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant.

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Published on November 7, 2018

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

In 2016, it was estimated that 1.7 million children were being homeschooled in the U.S, roughly 3.3% of all school-aged children.[1] Although this may not sound like a big portion of the population, the growth rate of homeschooling has been 7 to15% per year for the last two decades.

The burgeoning numbers are not a coincidence. There are tremendous benefits to homeschooling, including one-on-one teaching, adaptability to individual needs and learning styles, a safe learning environment, encouraging learning for knowledge rather than grades, and tailoring a curriculum to the child’s interests.

Is homeschooling something that you have been considering for your family? With all of the tools and resources available for homeschoolers in the 21st century, it may be easier than you think.

How to Homeschool (Getting Started)

After thinking it through, you’ve decided that homeschooling is the right step for you and your family. Now what? Here are the first things you should do to get your homeschooling journey started on the right track.

Figure Out the Laws

Homeschooling is regulated by the state, not the federal government. The first step is to find the current and accurate legal requirements mandated by your state in order to educate your child legally.[2]

The regulations can vary widely, from strict guidelines to no guidelines at all. However, don’t be overwhelmed by the legal jargon. There are many resources and local communities for homeschooling families that can help you figure out the logistics.

Decide on an Approach

Every child’s needs are different. This is your chance to choose the homeschooling style or combination of styles that best fits your child’s learning style and interests. A brief description of seven different homeschooling methods are listed below.

Supplies/Resources

Often times, purchasing a homeschooling curriculum is done too early in the planning process, resulting in buyer’s remorse.

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A curriculum is not always needed for homeschooling, and other types of free or less structured resources are readily available.

Find a Community

Getting connected with a community of homeschoolers is one of the most important parts of building a successful and thriving homeschool environment for your kids.

Look for communities online for virtual support or a local group that you and your kids can interact with. Partnering with others fosters better socialization skills for the students and provides opportunities for field trips, classes, and outings that wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of the homeschooling experience.

7 Different Homeschooling Methods

1. School-At-Home

Also known as Traditional homeschool, School-At-Home uses essentially the same curriculum as the local private or public school but at home.

The lessons can be completed independently, but more commonly, they are administered by a parent or a teacher-facilitated online school.

  • Benefits: formal standards, wide selection of curricula, same pace as peers, short-term friendly
  • Drawbacks: expensive, inflexible, time consuming, parent can get easily burnt out
  • Resources: K12, Time4Learning, Abeka

2. Classical

One of the most popular homeschooling methods used, it borrows educational practices from Ancient Greece and Rome. Subject areas are studied chronologically so that students can understand the consequence of ideas over time.

Socratic dialogue fosters effective discussions and debate to achieve beyond mere comprehension. There is often a strong emphasis on Great Books[3] as well as Greek and Latin.

3. Unit Studies

Rather than breaking up education into subjects, unit studies approach each topic as a whole, studying it from the perspective of each subject area.

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For example, a unit study about animals could include reading books about animals, learning about the classification of animals, figuring out which animals live on which continents, etc. This method is often used as a technique in other more comprehensive educational methodologies.

  • Benefits: promotes thinking about concepts as a whole, not monotonous or redundant, student-directed, bolsters weaker subject areas, beneficial for teaching multi-age students
  • Drawbacks: incomplete, knowledge gaps, curriculum-dependent
  • Resources: Unit Study, Unit Studies, Unit Studies Made Easy, Konos

4. Charlotte Mason

This Christian homeschooling style utilizes shorts periods of study (15-20 minute max for elementary, 45 minute max for high school), along with nature walks and history portfolios.

Students are encouraged to practice observation, memorization, and narration often. With a focus on “living books” (stories with heroes, life lessons, socio-ethical implications), reading plays a big role in this student-paced teaching style.

5. Montessori

Maria Montessori developed this method through working with special needs children in the early 20th century.

With a primary focus on the student setting the pace and indirect instruction from the teacher, this approach includes free movement, large unstructured time blocks (up to 3 hours), multi-grade classes, and individualized learning plans based on interests.

6. Unschooling

Unschooling is a learning model largely based on the work of John Holt.[4] The teaching style focuses mainly on the students’ interests, putting priority on experiential, activity-based, and learn as you go approaches.

For basic skills such as reading, writing, and math, a systematic technique is employed, but testing and evaluations are typically not utilized. Teachers, in general, play more of a facilitator role.

7. Eclectic/Relaxed

As the most popular method of homeschool, eclectic homeschooling is child-directed, resourceful, and non-curriculum based.

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Parents can sample any combination of homeschooling methods and styles or resources. One growing sector of eclectic homeschooling combines part homeschooling with part traditional schooling.

How to Facilitate Homeschooling with Technology

One of the reasons homeschooling is more feasible than ever before is due to the accessibility of tools and resources to enhance the learning process.

Email

Email is a tool that has really stood the test of time. Invented in 1972, it is still used today as a primary means of communicating on the Internet.

It is a great way to share assignments, links, and videos between parent and student.

Google Drive/Calendar

Google Drive offers a multitude of essential programs that can come in handy for homeschoolers, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

With its sharing capabilities, easy accessibility, and auto-save ability, it’s easier than ever to organize and complete assignments. It will improve students’ writing and typing skills, as well as eliminate the need for paper.

Google Calendar is an excellent tool for tracking assignment due dates, planning field trips and activities, and developing time management skills.

Ebooks

Rather than invest in physical copies of books, ebooks are a wonderful option for saving money and space. There are plenty of places that offer a free or paid subscription to a wide selection of ebooks:

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E-Courses

When a structured curriculum is necessary for teaching a certain topic, an e-course is the way to go.

From watercolors to calculus, there are e-courses available about almost everything. Including different teaching styles that vary from the parents will encourage students to learn in different ways.

The visual and auditory stimulation will also be beneficial in helping students understand and retain the concepts being taught.

Some recommendations:

Youtube

Youtube is not just a platform for music videos and cats doing funny things. There are a number of Youtube channels that produce quality educational videos, free of charge.

Creating a playlist of videos for various topics is a great way to supplement a homeschool education.

Some recommendations:

Final Thoughts

Homeschooling in the current age looks much different than it did ten years ago. There are more options and more flexibility when it comes to educating kids at home.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling your children if it could make a positive impact on your family.

Featured photo credit: Hal Gatewood via unsplash.com

Reference

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