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This is meant to be a research to practice article focusing on the use of “console video games in the secondary (middle school and high school) classroom environment to develop and promote pro-social skills and appropriate communication among students. The primary aim of the article will be in developing a structure for teachers to utilize in the classroom. Simply allowing students to “play games” will not provide the pro-social construct or structure that will be necessary for the improvement of social skills. This article will propose the video game console system can be used as a contextual tool which will allow for the deeper understanding and development of appropriate means and ways to create that structure. Utilizing appropriate (age and environment) gaming content, the mechanics of gameplay could create a strong relationship to social development.
Digital gaming has become a staple in the daily social lives of teenagers. Both male and female students define themselves as “gamers,” and the practice crosses cultural, linguistic, age, and socio-economic demographics. Modern gaming has become more then the act of sitting in front of a television with a game controller. Modern gaming is an interactive, community experience. Individuals are connected through “chat” and messaging, use team cooperation and planning techniques, and engage in banter and conversation. Gaming happens on both computers, and console systems, both of which have their own set of social rules and norms. While all of this takes place in a virtual world, the impacts of this interaction have real consequences on the participant. While research has shown playing video games online has little effect on the social and civic interactions of the general population, it does show that playing video games with others in person has measurable positive effects on communication skills, empathetic development, and civic mindedness of the same population.
The basic tenants of social interactions are difficult for many young people to understand and practice. Appropriate socialization in the “real world” is difficult for these students, but providing an arena where students are comfortable with more personal interaction would provide students the ability to practice appropriate social and communication skills while engaging in something they enjoy – and often – excel at. Strategically using video gaming systems in the classroom as a group or community activity will provide a new context and opportunity for teachers to instruct students in the development of pro-social skills, appropriate communication, and positive interaction.
To date, the main areas of research into video gaming have been related to young people’s aggression and academic learning. Although the use of video gaming systems have been explored while working in classrooms before, the literature supporting the use of these systems is fairly limited. Most focused on the development of academic skills, students utilized a computer or laptop (as opposed to a console) game or system, and research was conducted on students diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. This article will propose the use of video game console systems in developing and pro-social interaction and communication skills among teenagers (secondary students) with EBD. This can be a powerful means of engaging students in an arena where they are not only comfortable, but feel that they often excel.
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