An Iowa State University researcher says violent video games can teach kids to be more violent. Douglas Gentile studied nearly 25-hundred kids and found students who played multiple violent video games actually learned through those games to produce greater hostile actions and aggressive behaviors over a span of six months
He says they studied elementary students, high school students, and college students and found that kids who play multiple games actually are more aggressive in the real world. Gentile is an assistant professor of psychology, and discussed his findings with his father, who is a professor in New York.
In comparing notes, Gentile says they realized that video games use the same techniques that really great teachers use. For example, he says a great teacher will adapt the level of instruction to each individual learner, and will adapt the pace of each individual learning. Gentile says good teachers also ensure that students take an active part in the learning process.
There are other top teaching traits found in video games. Gentile says the "teach for transfer" gold standard of education has teacher give problems in as many contexts as possible so that students learn the underlying principle involved. He says video games do that with many different variations.
Gentile says students learn the more violent behavior through these type of teaching techniques in games — but the same techniques can also work in good ways. He says if the games portray "pro social motives" that don’t involve fighting people, then that also leads to the game players becoming more pro social.
Gentile says using the educational games is a good idea, but finding such games isn’t easy to do. Gentile says there’s a real discrepancy between how much is spent on entertainment software compared to what’s spent on educational software. For example, he says multiple millions of dollars was spend on the new "Halo 3" game, while only about 10-thousand dollars is spent on most educational software.
Gentile urges educators not to wait for more advancement in educational software before using such technology with students in the classroom. A paper on the research by Gentile and his father will be published in an upcoming professional journal.