Digital games may improve mental health in refugee kids

New York : Providing technological interventions such as digital games to children living as refugees in warn-torn regions may help boost their academics as well as improve their mental health, a research has found.

Refugee children often do not enroll in the education system partly because of language barriers, and they often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

The findings showed that digital games can effectively teach refugee children much-needed skills including a new language, cognitive skills, while also improving their mental health.

“The study shows that even with limited resources, and language barriers, we can make a difference in the lives of children through leveraging technology,” said Selcuk Sirin, Professor at the New York University.

The games also improved children’s executive functions and cognitive skills such as their ability to plan, monitor, and alter behaviours.

In addition, the intervention significantly lowered children’s sense of hopelessness and despair.

The study participants included 147 Syrian refugee children, aged 9 to 14.

Play based intervention was not only effective but also one in which the children were engaged and wanted to continue doing, the researchers suggested, while presenting the paper at the BAU International University in Washington, DC.

“Our pilot study shows that using game-based learning is an effective, cost-efficient way to teach refugee children important skills and this structured environment provided distressed refugee children an outlet to imagine a better future for themselves,” explained Sinem Vatanartiran, president of BAU International University.