Should video games be used as teaching tools?

As video game technology continues to improve at a rapid pace, implementing these games into the classroom to enhance learning has become a hot topic.

Rise of the Issue

Over the past few decades, American children and teens have mastered the art of playing video games as technology has advanced. Technology has become such an important part of our society that it has also become an integral part of education. But while using computers and tablets is now commonplace in the classroom, the question arises of whether using video games in a K-12 educational setting would be appropriate. 

While many believe that video games can improve learning in many different ways, others argue that there are some risks to take into consideration as well. Among the risks lie the fear of video games being a distraction to learning, as well as other aspects that have to do with technology’s negative effects more generally, like addiction or too much exposure to blue light. Those in favor of video games however see its potential for making learning more fun and engaging for students, and improving overall participation and performance in school.

Issue Timeline


The Dawn of Video Games

American physicist William Higinbotham creates the first ever video game, Tennis for Two, to showcase the marvels of new technology.


Nintendo Booms in Popularity

Nintendo Entertainment System releases their first video game console and quickly becomes a household name.


Video Games Become Rated

Videogame Rating Council forms to rate video games based on amount of inappropriate and violent content in response to concerned parents.


Social Media Takes on Video Games

Video games make their social media debut, and video game apps become more commonplace.


Modern-Day Video Games Born

First virtual reality (VR) video game, Oculus Rift, is released, reflecting today’s current video game technology.

Micro Issues


Youth Mental Health Crisis

Many argue that social media and video games are largely to blame for the unprecedented mental health crisis among teenagers and children today, and therefore argue that screen time should be limited, not promoted. Proponents of video games in the classrooms say that this has nothing to do with the mental health crisis among youth, and that this technology in the classroom could potentially alleviate student depression.


Embracing New Technology

Many are advocates of utilizing video games as a tool for education due to the vast advancements society has made in technology over the past few decades. Those on the other side of the issue believe that this technology should be kept inside the home due to its inherently addictive qualities that could distract students.


Learning with Technology

Proponents of using video games to teach assert the idea that using this tool will help energize students in their educational journeys in a way that will get them excited to learn, as video games are a tool often associated with fun and excitement in the eyes of students. Those opposed argue that this could lead to students simply wanting to have fun rather than learning.

Pro Arguments


Students will be more enthusiastic about attending school.

Due to standardized classroom learning and teaching methods, many students have grown tired of these traditional aspects of school. Using a technology these students are familiar with and have a positive perception of will entice students to reach their learning potential.


Students can express their creativity.

Because of the limits to creativity often found in traditional classroom settings where standardization is the norm, students are often left without a creative outlet. If granted the ability to use video games as learning and teaching tools, students could harness their creativity in a way that may make them aware of skills they have.


Video games encourage teamwork.

Students often learn best when collaborating with their peers, and a core component of video games typically includes teamwork. This can help students build relationships, learn to be part of a team, and get along well with others.


Video games can help improve processing and reaction times.

When exposed to video games in the classroom, students can learn to respond to stimuli quickly due to time limits commonly found in video games, thus potentially improving their overall academic performance.


Students’ memories can improve as a result of video games.

Video games often include aspects that must be memorized by the player, thus helping the student improve their memory, which would extend into their overall capacity for academic memorization.

Con Arguments


There is a lack of research on the effectiveness of this teaching method.

Opponents of using video games as a teaching tool cite the fact that there is little evidence supporting the effectiveness of video games in enhancing student performance in other subjects such as math, science, and reading.


The effect of too much screen time is damaging.

Many students are already exposed to screen time much more frequently than experts would advise, and if implemented as a teaching tool, students would be constantly exposed to technology.


Video games may further isolate students.

If not implemented in a collaborative way, video games that serve as teaching tools may lead students away from their peers and towards isolation, which would have a negative impact on the student’s emotional and cognitive capabilities.


Students may be easily distracted by this method of teaching.

Because students are so often enamored by the wonders of video game technology, their focus may drift from the educational aspect of the tool to the more common recreational purpose that video games serve.


Obsession could quickly form.

Video games often have an addictive quality, and this has led to high screen times and low interest in other daily activities. If implemented in the classroom, it would be difficult to regulate the time that students stay in front of a screen.