Parents can breathe a sigh of relief: digital games do not let children become stupid, especially in combination with physical play. Then namely even creativity should be encouraged. A neuroscientific study commissioned by toy manufacturer Lego is supposed to prove exactly that. The newfangled “phygital play” stimulates different areas of the brain and could therefore prove to be particularly useful for encouraging children to play.
“Phygital play” encourages creativity
The results of the study should at least reassure parents a little: When playing phygital, the study participants showed a particularly high degree of focus and concentration. The measurement of brain activity also suggests increased creativity. So if children play in a combination of digital and physical games, this has an overall positive effect on creativity.
This became recognizable because the researchers also let children play in purely digital or purely physical settings. While physical play should primarily have trained analytical and cognitive brain activities and thus in particular skills such as logical thinking, memory or fine motor skills, the advantages of digital play lie in the activation of emotions, spontaneity and the speed of reaction - in addition, skills such as orientation and attention and perception and cognition promoted.
The central result of the analysis, including Lego Hidden Page TM, a kit with app support: The types of "physical" and "digital" differ significantly in their cognitive requirements and, according to the researchers, complement each other optimally. If the purely physical game is primarily about analytical and precise motor requirements for the children, which require spatial imagination, playing using the Augmented Reality app from Lego Hidden SiteTM requires a completely different set of cognitive skills. Information processing must take place very quickly here, motor reactions take place spontaneously, which among other things can promote spatial orientation via augmented reality and positively influence the creativity and activity of the child.
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Study director Dr. Florian Kerkau sees mental patterns activated in “phygital play”, which “suggest increased creative processes in the brain”. “The results of the study also suggest that the different requirements of the virtual-physical game can be expected to have positive effects on both basic and specific cognitive abilities. For example, it trains concentration or memory, but also skills such as logical thinking and planned action as well as processes of attention and recognition ”.
Lego claims to have found out in advance as part of the “Play Well Report” that parents are reluctant to act when it comes to digital games. Around 41 percent of the parents surveyed at least doubted the positive effects of digital gaming. A very realistic result, because parents' reservations about the so-called screen time are high.
Based on the knowledge gained by the researchers, parents should at least assume that digital games are not harmful per se. As is so often the case, it depends on the length of the game and the exact course of the game. The more qualitative and immersive a digital game is, the greater the probability that positive effects will be triggered. The study is not a call to parents to put their children in front of the screens. On the contrary: digital elements take effect when they are combined with classic game actions. Rather, the study should be understood as a wake-up call for families who too little time playing .
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