Why games? Part I

Hi there and welcome to this first attempt at what I hope will be an ongoing blogging forum for new ideas of all sorts. For now, I’m going to be trying to use this space to explore some thinking about why my colleagues and are getting very turned on to using video games to empower and build self-efficacy in children and adolescents. Here’s a bit of background on what we care about more generally:

We aim to create and evaluate interventions that promote resilient, healthy habits of mind (HHM). HHMs are a set of coping styles (e.g., seeking social support), cognitive habits (e.g., resilience in the face of failure), and emotional resiliency-boosting skills (e.g., acceptance as compared to rumination) that together not only buffer children from adversity, but also contribute to empowered, strong, optimistic and effective young people. We want to develop innovative programs to more effectively promote those healthy habits of mind.

At the same time, we are committed to preventing the development of anxiety and depression in children and adolescents. We know that anxiety disorders are the most prevalent childhood problems (with 15-20% of kids showing clinically significant problems), and anxious children often develop into anxious and depressed adults. Note that the World Health Organization (2012) recognizes depression as a major contributor to the global burden of disease.

We think that focusing on a set of critical HHM can both promote healthy development and at the same time prevent serious forms of psychopathology. But current prevention programs remain only moderately effective, so we are looking at inventive ways to strengthen them.

We think that games can make a significant contribution to this end.


Isabela Granic

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