A meta-analysis of the effects Interactive Video Games (IVG) have on the behavioural and cognitive constructs of meta cognitive knowledge, direct cognition, and regulatory skills on k-12 students was conducted based on the grounded theory using a qualitative to address the subject of inquiry within formalized frameworks. Research results showed that a significant number of articles supported the position that Interactive Video Games help students to improve the foundations of their procedural, conditional, and declarative knowledge, with a smaller number contending otherwise. A systematic literature review, analysis of thematic content, and organization of themes led to the conclusion that Interactive Video Games have several positive and some negative effects. Among the positive effects include the acquisition skills for continual development of hypothetical skills, self-regulation, better task performance (based on declarative and procedural knowledge), high levels of concentration, improved reasoning and judgemental capabilities, and increased physical arousal to competitiveness, and positive change of attitude and behaviour. However, using proper intervention strategies could enhance positive gains with interactive video games. Despite that, it was recommended that further research be conducted to determine the best strategies to optimise the games and reduce the negative effects that happen among the k-12 schools children.
The introduction of computer games in almost every household, places of entertainment, and learning institutions in the world has compelled researchers in academia to study their effects on k-12 children in many parts of the works and in Saudi Arabia today. The problem is that traditional perspectives on cognitive and behavioural effects of Interactive Video Games on children differ significantly with modern findings due to methodological flaws (Sherry, 2001). The significance of the findings was based on different research results by evaluating various works and a wide range of journals and relevant articles published on the subject of inquiry (Staiano & Calvert, 2011). Among the behavioural aspects investigated include the preferences students developed for computer games, the effects the gems have on students’ attitudes, and the abilities they develop in better cognition skills. However, different approaches were investigated on how to address the problems caused by indulging in the video games by different authors in academia and the results formed the foundation for future research in the same area of inquiry.
Purpose and objectives
- List the most popular journals that discussed IVG
- Determine the behavioural and cognitive Effects of IVG on the K-12 students.
- Assist educators and parents to deal with IVG effects
The research Questions
- What are the most popular journals during 2000-2015 that discussed IVG
- How many articles for each journal and how much the total during the 2000-2015
- What behavioural effects do IVG have on K-12 students?
- What cognitive effects do IVG have on K-12 students?
- How can educators and parents deal with IVG effects?
Significance of the study
The study could be useful for institutions and parents in understanding the cognitive effects Interactive Video Games have on k-12 students in Saudi Arabia when exposed to the games either at home or in school. The study raised the concern of increasing addiction, compulsive behaviour, and competition among children. It has been revealed that exposure to the IVG could enable children to develop superior learning skills.
(Meta-analysis; behaviours; cognitive; Interactive Video Games)
Literature Review and Theoretical Background
List of popular Journals
An investigation into the journal and articles published in each journal on the subject matter that deals with the meta-analysis study of the behavioural and cognitive effects of Interactive Video Games (IVG) on k-12 students are tabulated in table 1. According to Ke (2008) and Parra and Guild (2015), the popularity of the journal was based on the number of times articles were searched for, downloaded, or subscriptions made on the subject of inquiry.
Table 1: List of popular Journals
|An in order list of the most popular Journals that discussed cognitive and behavioural effects of IVG on children||Search hits||No. of articles|
The foundational arguments based on the learning theory, social problem solving theories, and cognitive theories point to the evolution of thinking of different researchers on the effects of IVGs on children between 2000 and 2015 (Shea, (2000; Wellington, 2015; Parra & Guild, 2015). When modelled with input variables such as individual behaviour, cognitive revolution, constructivism, cooperative learning, critical thinking skills, discovery learning, peer tutoring, attitudes, self-questioning, structuralism, emotions, beliefs, situations, and schemas, the theories explain the underlying reasons that lead to the acquisition and improvement and development of cognitive skills and behavioural attitudes when subjected to IVGs (Sherry, 2001). Here, cognition, arousal, and affect are the fundamental elements that stimulate the mental activities that lead to long and short-term effects such as factual learning, changes in personality, thoughtful action, and impulsive actions. The theories explain how knowledge and competence is developed through interactive experience, automation, perceptions, and interpersonal responses to environmental variables.
Effects do IVG have on K-12
The result of the subject of inquiry has been mired in controversy based on evidence that has evolved through different dimensions and time including the introduction and use of terms such as meta-memory that described knowledge processing capabilities of children as noted by (Anderson & Dill, 2000). The studies by Bartholow and Anderson (2002), Blumberg and Sokol (2004), Buckley and Anderson (2006), and Kato (2010) among modern authors built on the findings by Anderson and Dill (2000) who relied on earlier research, later agreed on the use of the term meta-cognition on the positive and negative effects of Interactive Video Games on school going children. The task variables include meta-cognitive knowledge on task performance such as ability to comprehend the level of difficulty of a problems and the solution for it. Other levels of meta-cognition studies include internal experiences, affective experience, awareness of failure and success, and later on control thinking activities and how the effects relate with IVGs. Lacking conclusive evidence, Kirsh (2003) inquired into the subject matter by tapping into the habits of players based on the preferences of children who indulged in the video games. The variables of investigation were the effects of IVG on meta-cognition knowledge, regulation, self-awareness, control, problem solving skills, and intelligence using an inventory of 30 items and articles.
Moreno and Mayer (2007) developed their studies on the findings by Kirsh (2003), Anderson and Dill (2000), and Anderson and Bartholow and Anderson (2002) and concluded that the thinking style of a child exposed to IVG strongly was strongly affected with short and long-term aggressiveness. A study in a similar context by Rhodes, Warburton, and Bredin (2009) that attempted to research further on the points of weakness by prior authors such as Moreno and Mayer (2007) based on the theory of violent behaviour by targeting children aged between 12-18 years and concluded that when such a group of students were predisposed and exposed to physiological conditioning of violent IVGs, the students developed violent behaviours. A criticism of the studies showed that some authors did not include violent video into the investigations because of the argument that the effects on students when exposed to the video games were too distant and unreliable to provide satisfactory answers (Ogletree & Drake, 2007).
Skoric, Teo, and Neo (2009) conducted a study based on the findings by Subrahmanyam, Greenfield, Kraut, and Gross (2001) that targeted children aged between 5 and 12 characterised by pre-existing attitudes on Interactive Video Games with a high frequency of exposure. Later, the “children were then allowed to play violent and non-violent video games for fifteen minutes and their heart beats recorded to collect primary data for analysis” (Haninger & Thompson, 2004, p.23). The children were allowed to rate their level of disappointments or frustrations they experienced when playing the games on a questionnaire with a scale of 1-10. In addition, the studies were distributed and made to be far between with some recurring on a yearly basis with the assessments done on the same variables (Ogletree & Drake, 2007). Ogletree and Drake (2007) identified eight context variables based on high quality games that influenced the outcomes when interacting with the games to include role playing, humour, the level of violence of the games, rewards, and availability of weapons to assess the level of responses in the context of violence and other related effects. The study concluded that video games do not produce any effects, either violent or non-violent. However, a review of the findings Yee (2006) and later by Connolly, Boyle, MacArthur, Hainey, and Boyle (2012) by correcting the methodological flaws of previous studies and prior researches that used incorrect quantifiable measures of aggression and the weakness of the failure to factor the effects of dissenting studies into the investigation using a small target population were conducted by involving 10 times more participants than previously used.
The behavioural effects of IVG have on K-12 students
A study to determine the behavioural dispositions of children exposed to Interactive Video Games did little to show the link between the video games and the behaviour of the children (Gentile, Lynch, Linder, & Walsh, 2004). Some effects investigated include heightened sensitivities to the games, the trigger of mechanism that triggers undesirable behaviours, and the potential for health related problems such as obesity.
Moreno and Mayer (2007) conducted the investigation based on a statistical analysis of the observed effects among children within the k-12 bracket. The results revealed that 65% of the children showed significant effects of an increase in the number of pains and aches, increase in cases of ‘Nitendinitis’ where children suffer from joint pains, muscle problems, and increase in body weight. Other problems include wrist pains, peripheral neuropathy, and in some cases epileptic seizures. Other researchers such as Ferguson (2010) argue that the video games inculcate a sense of aggressive behaviour. According to Squire (2003), other areas of concentration include the effects of covert verbal behaviour that varies between violent and non-violent games. It was proved by Squire (2006) that covert behaviour had a strong correlation with the reading reaction time of the student when exposed to IVGs.
It was established that the type of game being played and the time of exposure had profound effects on the behavioural results of the student. For instance, an investigation that exposed students to prolonged play of a video game know as Grand Theft Auto II showed that those who had a prolonged exposure showed an increase in blood pressure, hostile and antisocial behaviour, and more health and psychological effects (Bartholow & Anderson, 2002; Squire, 2006; Gravetter & Forzano, 2015). It was noted that negative blood pressure resulted in negative information processing.
Table 2: Negative and positive effects
|Positive effects||Negative effects||Year||Number of journals|
|Pain management, reduction of antisocial behaviour and thoughts (Anderson & Dill, 2000).||Increase in aggression, aggressive thoughts, desensitisation, decreases in pro-social behaviours (Anderson & Dill, 2000; Scandura & Williams, 2000; Shea, 2000)||2000||5|
|Better pro-social behaviour, increased reaction to violence.||Aggressive feelings and behaviours (Sherry, 2001; Squire, 2003).||2001-2003||5|
|Video structure and content increases attention, better working memory, stimulus for learning, increased perception and |
Attention, positive attitudes (Grigorovici & Constantin, 2004; Gentile et al., 2004; Carnagey & Anderson, 2005; Squire, 2006).
|Attention deficits, negative cognition control, negative attitudes, aggressive behaviour (Blumberg & Sokol, 2004; Gentile et al., 2004; Carnagey & Anderson, 2005; Squire, 2006).||204-2006||6|
|Teach through motivation, provide engagement for the player, encourages active participation, behaviour and cognition are content based, encourages social problems solving skills, ability to encode and interpret environmental cues, assists in the interpretation of behavioural reactions. |
Increases affect, guides interpretation and positive response to environment, effective arousal, and factual learning. Reinforcement of knowledge structures (Ke, 2008; Rhodes et al., 2009; Skoric et al., 2009; Van Reijmersdal et al., 2010; Staiano & Calvert, 2011; Connolly et al., 2012; Gravetter & Forzano, 2015; Parra & Guild, 2015).
|Children become meaner, have increased desire to see more violent games, see the world as scary, become more callous, less sympathetic, less pro-social (Moreno & Mayer, 2007; Ke, 2008).||2007-2015||10|
Cognitive effects of IVG have on K-12 students
The cognitive effects of IVG on K-12 students were investigated by various authors including Ogletree and Drake (2007) and Squire (2003) among others at different stages by relying on research paradigms that embraced the universal laws of cause and effect that depend on a realistic ontology by building the study on the symbolic, iconic, and representation as the core components of consideration. The studies focused on pattern recognition, long-term and short-term working memory, visual images, expertise and creativity (Van Reijmersdal, Jansz, Peters, & Van Noort, 2010). For instance, Ogletree and Drake (2007) emphasized on solution seeking capabilities based on the student’s problem solving skills that include fluency in generating possibilities, what to do in seeking for partial solutions to problems, ability to retrieve words from memory, and retrieval of solution patterns to resolve anagrams. Ogletree and Drake (2007) Koedinger, Brunskill, Baker, McLaughlin, and Stamper (2013) suggested that expertise in problem solving entailed investigating effective problem monitoring and solving strategies, identifying schemas, and developing sophisticated representations.
Buckley and Anderson (2006) researched on different theories and models that explain the cognitive effects proposed by Carnagey and Anderson (2005) among other authors in academia. The results showed that exposed children developed better motor cognition and problem solving skills by making them more competent because of better problem solving skills.
A theoretical proposition that underpinned the studies conducted to gather empirical evidence on the cognitive effects IVG have on K-12 students (primary, intermediate, and secondary students in Saudi Arabia) when exposed to a Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT, CAT) served as the datum for gauging the IVG effects. The Saudi Arabia education system for k-12 students provides for the development and mastery of the skills and concepts necessary for lifelong development and academic growth to successfully graduate from high school. Here, some contributing theories include that of Piaget and Vygots that focused on constructive understanding of the students. An overview of the CAT shows the critical elements to include task performance, contextual performance, cognitive abilities (aptitude, intelligence, and the ability to learn and acquire new knowledge and skills). Here, aptitude was used as a measure of a student’s ability to establish patters of words that occur among a large amount of data.
The study by Squire (2003), Blumberg and Sokol (2004), and Ogletree and Drake (2007), and other contemporary researchers in the field of educational psychology found out that video games had profound effects on the cognitive psychology of the student.
A study by Ke (2008) based on secondary data from previous studies by Ogletree and Drake (2007) and contemporaries showed that students exposed to IVG games developed better hand-eye coordination skills, relief from stress because 29% of the girl respondents and 49% of the boy respondents agreed with the position. On the other hand, a study on the classroom setting where video games were used as tools of instruction showed a significant increase in the mastery of the subject matter being taught at school. It was concluded that “the right video games help children master everything from basic grammar to complex math without the drudgery of old-school flash cards” (Ke, 2008, p.12). Here, scientific research concluded that video games acted as a tool for spatial development, the development of cognitive abilities of spatial visualisation based on the ability to visualise in the mind how vertical and horizontal lines intercept, ability to judge distance and the mental capacity to solve puzzles using certain cues.
A recent data driven survey by Koedinger et al. (2013), it was demonstrated that IVGs provide the student with better decision making, analytical, and math problem solving skills.
IVG and the most popular IVG in Saudi Arabia
Different IVG have been developed and made available on the internet for students to download. Here, the objectives of developing the games vary significantly depending on the environment of application. The first IVG in the order being investigates is MineCraf (Parra & Guild, 2015). MineCraf was developed by a Swedish programmer for the purpose of inculcating skills in people on how to construct buildings. The sandbox independent video game was designed to enable the people to develop out of texture 3D structures.
The Fifa 15 video game developed by Electronic Arts Canada and released into the market in 2014 (Parra & Guild, 2015). The game runs on different platforms, on which to ignite the engine that runs. A player is allowed to loan players from different bodies for a limited amount of time and provides players with the opportunity to create an advanced dream squad.
Call of duty
The Call of duty is a game that consists of a series of other games such as world war games (Parra & Guild, 2015). The goal of using the game is to inculcate a sense of call to duty for the student who spends time interacting with the video game. The game focuses on world wars waged under different conditions with different weapons.
The Last of Us
The Last of Us was released on the PlayStation 3 with a theme of action-adventure survival horror (Shea, 2000). The key elements that characterised the game include human conditions, exploration, subtext, and depiction of female characters. The game has been highly rated and is regarded as one of the greatest videos of all time for its uniqueness.
Destiny was developed and released in September 2014 with a theme of mythic science fiction. The video game was highly rated despite some criticism around the content, storyline, and post-campaign. It is a first person shooter game that allows the player to take some roles in the game (Van Reijmersdal et al., 2010). The game allows a person to participate in public events and feature three character events, which include Warlocks among others.
How educators and parents deal with IVG effects
Systematic advances in research on the effects of IVGs on the behaviour and cognition of k-12 children that have occurred in the field of educational psychology show evidence of increased inquiry between 2000 and 2015. Anderson and Dill (2000) evaluated 20 journals on the subject of inquiry by categorising 43 articles into emerging themes of declarative, procedural, and conditional knowledge, pro-social behaviour, attitudes, and to use the themes to prevent aggressive behaviour such as verbal attacks, destruction of property, aggressive cognition, affective aggression, and low empathy. A study by Bartholow and Anderson (2002) and Grigorovici and Constantin (2004) identified methodological flaws and created a new foundation of study based on the observation of casual effects resulting from new approaches of guiding children. Blumberg and Sokol (2004), Carnagey and Anderson (2005), and Buckley and Anderson (2006) developed the work of Bartholow and Anderson (2002) using 100 articles from 24 journals using a meta-cognitive analysis of the personality and social psychology, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, and the Journal of General Psychology among others published articles that inquired into the cognitive and behavioural effects of IVGs on children based on longitudinal and cross sectional studies between 2000 and 2015. The trend was to conceptualise models for teacher and parents to guide children to achieve self-regulation and self-regulated learning with a differential emphasis on each construct in knowledge development using IVGs.
Studies by Buckley and Anderson (2006), Squire (2006). Yee (2006), Moreno and Mayer (2007), Ke (2008), Skoric et al. (2009), Van Reijmersdal, et al. (2010) and Staiano and Calvert (2011) lead to the conclusion that recommended monitoring the child, regulating the time spent in a game, evaluating the accuracy of a game in context of the desired output on to behaviour, motivation, control, and knowledge. Staiano and Calvert (2011) analysed 20 articles and concluded that teachers and parents need to evaluate meta-cognition features such as the stability of character and task situation, knowledge awareness, and levels of proficiency desired from the game. The argument was that a teacher or parent needs to be knowledgeable of the effects of the video game before indulging in a specific guidance process. Later findings by Connolly et al. (2012) and Parra and Guild (2015) concluded that teachers and parents need to evaluate the content (by considering elements of the mental world such as skills, function, deliberately increasing the concentration of the student, development of meta strategic awareness and control, knowledge, and information), nature, architecture, context, and mechanics of a game before allowing children to access the IVG.
Parra and Guild (2015) emphasized on later models based on a meta-analysis of 20 ‘journal’ and 23 articles by Staiano and Calvert (2011) that investigated monitoring, planning, and evaluation concluded using statistical evidence form 20 journals and 39 articles with 78% of the articles noting that students should be guided through meta-cognitive strategies which involve modelling, self-recording, and thinking aloud. A hypothesis by Parra and Guild (2015) on the correlation between guiding children and positive outcomes recommended the use of positive and negative problem orientations to enable children view the problem as a situation that requires a person’s response. Drawing on previous evidence based on a study by Skoric et al. (2009), Parra and Guild (2015) evaluated 20 articles on issues related to violence related to video games because of certain features and concluded that teachers and parents should consider delivery instructional learning mechanisms based on IVGs. Instructional approaches include initiation that includes learning of important behaviours, avoiding unhelpful and anti-social behaviours, and avoidance in aggressive behaviours.
Skoric et al. (2009), Van Reijmersdal et al. (2010), Ferguson (2010), Kato (2010), Staiano and Calvert (2011), and Parra and Guild (2015) parents need to identify IVGs that can be identified with good social behaviour and avoid those that lead to increased aggressive behaviours and attitudes. Methods of increasing behavioural sequence that commits memory through repetition and giving rewards, associative learning, encouraging interactivity through active participation that assists learning.
The research methodology was based on the qualitative research philosophy modelled on the grounded theory where the elements of investigation were recoded as facts were discovered throughout the investigation process of a systematic review of articles on the subject of inquiry (Wellington, 2015). The grounded theory provides a model for continuous investigations based on the positivist approach to gather empirical evidence to achieve the objectives of investigation (Thomas, Silverman, & Nelson, 2015). The secondary data was analysed through a classification of ideas, themes, and topics to generate concrete answers to the questions (Scandura & Williams, 2000). An iterative process was used to conduct a thematic analysis of the content by engaging in a critical thinking process of questioning and categorising the results to make concrete conclusions. A statistical analysis of the variables of investigation to determine the correlation between the elements of inquiry on the effects of IVCG on k-12 students was done. The results were discussed in context of all the findings to address the research objectives.
Population and sampling
The sampling of the items of investigation was based on the year of publication of an article between 2000 and 2015 on the subject of inquiry (Scandura & Williams, 2000, Parra and Guild, 2015). A total of 650 articles formed the inventory of the population used in the inquiry that has been written on the effects IVGs have on k-12 children between 2000 and 2015. However, the sampling strategy was based on the number of articles per a journal and the year of publication. The elements of inquiry in each article based on exploratory and factor analysis of the items of behaviour such as beliefs, attitudes, thoughtful action, stress, anxiety, reactive and proactive responses, controlled evaluation, exposure time, feelings, anger, physical arousal, instrumental response, and cues.
Results & Analysis
|Table 2: Correlations|
|Negative effects||Positive effects||Behaviuor||Better Cognition||Parental and Teacher guidance|
|Negative effects||Pearson Correlation||1||-.571**||-.146**||-.077||.069|
|Positive effects||Pearson Correlation||-.571**||1||.095*||.081*||-.038|
|IVG exposure||Pearson Correlation||-.146**||.094*||1||-.002||-.338**|
|Better Cognition||Pearson Correlation||-.078||.082*||-.002||1||.044|
|Parental: and Teacher guidance||Pearson Correlation||.069||-.038||-.339**||.042||1|
|**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).|
|*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).|
The study shows that the most popular journals during 2000-2015 on the subject of inquiry include advance Experimental Social Psychology, Educational Psychology Review, IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science (IOSR-JHSS), Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Psychological science, Playing video games: Motives, and responses and consequences that had a usage hit of more than 100. However, the usage search hits for other journals were less than 100 making them less popular based on the search rates.
The number of articles per journal is tabulated in table 1.5 with varying popularity. For Instance, there were 140 articles in the journal of ‘Playing video games: Motives, responses, and consequences, 100 articles published on the subject of inquiry in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 80 articles in the Journal of personality and social psychology, and 70 articles in the journal of Advances in experimental social psychology. Other journals with articles on the same subject matters include the IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science (IOSR-JHSS) with 50 articles, Educational Psychology Review with 60 articles, and the ‘The Journal of General Psychology’ with 19 articles on the subject content.
Typically, through a qualitative research paradigm, the findings on the behavioural effects of IVG have on K-12 students were noted to include an increase in addiction for the Interactive Video Games among the students who spent several hours on the game and changes in compulsive behaviour that are defined as an impulse control disorder that includes pyromania, kleptomani, and pathological gambling. It was noted that compulsive behaviour leads to children to develop a mentality that leads to alienation from friends, ignoring personal hygiene practises, anxiety and depression, escape from reality, and getting easily irritated when not playing. However, the positive side of the behavioural aspect include increase in competition among the youth, superior mental skills, physical arousal to competitiveness, increased in the positive change of attitude and behaviour, better student involvement in physical and academic activities, reversal of the sedentary lifestyle, increased expenditure of energy at work, improved levels of confidence among the students with low self-esteem, and better eyesight for impaired students through an increase in vigour when exercising, it was demonstrated that students get better eye hand-eye coordination skills, mastery basic to complex grammar, have better comprehension of situational awareness, have more perseverance, develop better estimation skills, and improve the level of concentration by becoming more attentive.
The cognitive results showed that students develop better working memory, improved problem solving skills, higher level of task involvement, increases attention, learning capabilities, and social and thinking skills.
Conclusions and Recommendations
In conclusion, the study established a strong correlation between playing interactive games and the behavioural and cognitive effects of the k-12 students. The number of journals on the subject matters and those articles published per journal provide evidence of an increase in the dynamics of inquiring into the effects of Interactive Video Games on k-12 students, showing evidence of a steady increase between 2000 and 2015. On the other hand the behavioural effects are both good and bad. Here, it was established that playing interactive video game arouses increased physical activity, improved self-confidence, better judgement, better learning and mental abilities, and higher active involvement in student activities. Here, the cognitive include improved long and short-term working memory, improved expertise and creativity. However, the negative effects include compulsive behaviour, additions, obesity, muscle pain, and muscle problems. However, there is need for further research to be conducted on how Interactive Video Games can be used to harness the positive effects and minimise the negative effects that affect the students.
In summary, while Interactive Video Games have been shown to negatively influence the behaviour of children who spend a lot of their time on the games such as compulsive behaviour, it has been demonstrated through empirical evidence that such games have positive effects on children. For instance, schools going children in the k-12 category who have frequently interacted with the games have registered improved attention spans, get more involved in their tasks, enjoy reading books on their own, and have better cognitive and behavioural capabilities. However, there is need to investigate the best methods to employ to overcome the negative effects of the IVGs on children.
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