Your kid might be too young to be seriously considering a career in STEM, but that doesn’t mean they’re too young to cultivate an interest. If you’re raising a girl, new research suggests that one of the easiest ways to encourage that interest is to simply let her be a kid — and play video games.
A new study published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour, according to The University of Surrey, suggests that girls actively playing video games often leads them towards degrees in STEM.
Led by Surrey’s Dr Anesa Hosein, the researchers discovered that girls between the ages of 13 and 14 who identified as “heavy gamers” were “three times more likely to pursue a PSTEM degree” compared to girls who didn’t play video games. Heavy gaming was defined as nine or more hours a week.
This information could be used in a variety of ways in education; Dr Hosein thinks teachers and parents who see a gaming interest in girls could encourage them to explore STEM degree pathways by going to “gaming expert talks” or by including gaming in STEM degrees generally.
She also says it’s important to beware of stereotypes. Not all “girl geeks”, as Hosein describes herself, fit the same mould, though they may feel as though they have to in order to be taken seriously as both gamers and scientists:
It also found that 100 per cent of girls in the study who were already in PSTEM degrees were identified as gamers. However, the same could not be said for boys where a similar amount of gamers existed regardless of degree type, leading to thoughts that boys experience far less pressure to conform to the video gamer stereotype if they were studying a PSTEM degree.
Aside from cultivating potential science and tech pioneers, video games have been credited lately as a helpful educational tool for basic literacy needs. Perspectives On Reading shared several stories on children with dyslexia and other learning challenges developing those skills by playing Skyrim and Minecraft.
These complicated worlds make reading an important component of discovery in the role-playing games, which means kids will push themselves further than they likely would in a classroom.