Video Games Help Syrian Refugee Children Code — and Cope

Despite what your parents may have told you, video games can be educational, and maybe even life changing. Just ask the Syrian refugee children based in Turkey who participated in Project Hope, an online, game-based, learning-intervention program.

Turkey is the top refugee-hosting country in the world, with more than three million registered Syrian refugees in need of educational and psychological assistance. Project Hope researchers wanted to help, but they didn’t know if sending mental health practitioners or other social services overseas would fulfill those needs on a long-term basis. Instead, they decided to leverage the power of digital media.

Spearheaded by a team of academics with educational technology expertise, the project used game education to develop Turkish-language proficiency, executive functions, and coding skills while alleviating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. “We created an intervention that was not only effective, but one in which the children were engaged and wanted [to] continue,” said CUNY Graduate Center Professor Bruce Homer, a Project Hope investigator.

The children were also asked to create a dream house, a neighborhood, and a school in the popular sandbox game Minecraft. After previously reporting intense feelings of despair, they took to the task with great enthusiasm—finally daring to imagine a better, brighter future.

Beyond SUM

Work By
Bruce Homer (Professor, Educational Psychology) | Profile

Colleges & Schools
The Graduate Center

Bonus Content
Syria’s refugee children are learning to code by gaming online (World Economic Forum)

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