Can Video Games Really Teach Kids Empathy? – Study

Tanuja Bisht

, News

Recently, a research has discovered a video game created to teach children empathy that can change young brains and improve social behavior. But every parent asked a question “Can video games really teach kids empathy?” What do you think of it? Let’s see what the study tells about this question.


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Can Video Games Really Teach Kids Empathy? - Study



A video game was designed to promote empathy in children may lead to a higher connection with brain networks related to prosocial behavior. A study, published in the periodical “Npj Science of Learning,” reveals that middle schoolers who played video game showed greater connectivity in brain networks related to perspective and empathy. Some children also showed altered neural networks commonly connected to emotion regulation, a fundamental skill that this age group is beginning to develop.


In a statement, Tammi Kral, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin Madison in the US, states that “The realization that these skills are actually trainable with video games is important because they are predictors of emotional well-being and health throughout life, and can be practiced anytime – with or without video games. Empathy is the first step in a sequence that can lead to prosocial behaviors, such as helping others in need.”


During adolescence age, children face an explosion in the brain growth as well as it is the time when children are sensitive to first encounters with anxiety, depression, and bullying. The team wanted to learn whether there were ways to use video games as a game player for positive emotional development during this critical period.


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Researchers randomly selected 150 middle schoolers into two groups. One played the experimental game, known as “Crystals of Kaydor,” which was created for research purposes for treating empathy and the second group played a commercially available and entertaining game known as “Bastion” that does not target empathy.


After this, the team obtained functional magnetic resonance imaging scans from both groups that showcase before and after two weeks of gameplay, looking at connections with areas of the brain, that include empathy and emotion regulation. Moreover, participants in the study also performed tests during the brain scans that helps in measuring how exactly they empathized with others. The researchers found effective connectivity in empathy-related brain networks after the middle schoolers played Crystals of Kaydor as compared to Bastion.


Moreover, the Crystals of Kaydor players who showed increased neural connectivity in brain networks for emotion regulation also improved their empathy test performance. Whereas the kids who did not display increased neural connectivity in the brain did not develop on the test of empathic accuracy either.




After highlighting all the aspects of the study, it clarifies the question “Can video games really teach kids empathy?” Not every video game is considered helpful for developing emotions and empathy.


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