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Digital Game Intervention Improves Mental Health and Educational Outcomes of Refugee Children

Posted: August 02, 2017

Digital platforms can help refugee children to better assimilate into a new society, helping with language and education, and also in addressing the mental health issues that inevitably accompany the traumas of escape.

A new study, from New York University, has looked at Syrian refugees children in Turkey. The children, sometimes with their families, have experienced the plight of fleeing a war-torn area and many experience post-traumatic stress disorder. Add to this, few of the children in refugee camps are receiving education, partly because of the language barrier. How can these problems be addressed?

One answer, according to the researchers, is with the use of digital technology. The researchers have devised a platform to both help children to learn and also to help to alleviate the stresses associated with the experiences of conflict and unsteady travel. Some of the ‘games’ within the platform were specially designed to address these concerns; others are modifications of standard applications such as Minecraft.

For the study, the New York University researchers worked with the City University of New York, and Turkey's Bahcesehir University. The findings were presented to a special meeting at BAU International University in Washington, D.C. in June 2017. The study was called ‘Project Hope’.

The aim of the digital platform as a whole was to improve Turkish language proficiency, expand executive functions, and introduce coding skills. At the same time the package aimed to decrease the sense of despair faced by the children and to increase hope.

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