Video Games Helping Teens Grasp Economics

DENTON (CBSDFW.COM) – The economy is set to be an important issue in this year’s presidential election. From ups and downs on Wall Street to global money meltdowns, everyone is focused on finances. But even those who are not old enough to vote are learning to manage their cash. “You can tell, by how the economy is going, how the future’s going to be,” explained Denton High School junior Alex Wright. “So, from my perspective, I like knowing about it.”

Juniors and seniors in Wright’s economics class are immersed in the issue. High school students are being taught the basics of economics, but some studies show that the internet generation may be able to better understand the topic by going online — specifically the world of online gaming. New games like “Beat the Market Online,” “World Game of Economics” and even “SimCity” are reaching children on a different level.

Some experts believe that these online games are a much more effective teaching tool. “Just going up and lecturing about these basic concepts is not going to do it,” said Dr. Steven Cobb with the UNT Center for Economic Education.

Cobb explained that this generation of students is more interested in money and the economy than previous ones. And with the internet being such a integral part of their everyday lives, learning about economics through online gaming feels natural. “It gives them a basic exposure to some really important economic concepts in an environment that doesn’t seem like school,” Cobb said.

“More kids, they don’t go home and study,” Wright explained. “They go home and play video games. So, if you made a video game out of it, I can see where more people would play it and learn better from playing it.”

It is a new method of teaching that, experts think, will yield benefits for a future generation of consumers. “We’re visual learners,” said Denton High School senior Carrie Pena. “We like video games and we like doing anything else but being in school.”

But Cobb also warned that a potential drawback to such video game learning is that the games do not provide an adequate debriefing opportunity, a process that allows students to make correct assessments about their economic decisions.

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