Young children can benefit from playing age-appropriate video games in moderation as they grow intellectually, socially, and physically.
Why Playing Video Games Can Be Good
As parents, we frequently place a greater emphasis on the risks than on the advantages of video games. But since playing these games is a common aspect of modern childhood, it’s important to recognize that they can be an effective tool for teaching kids certain life skills. Knowing the advantages can help educators look for ways to augment classroom instruction, parents select acceptable leisure time games, and game developers design educational games.
Children’s Motivations for Video Game Play in the Context of Normal Development is a research study I wrote that was published in the Review of General Psychology in 2010. Results from trials I oversaw at Harvard Medical School were incorporated into the study, along with survey information gathered from more than 1,000 public school children. Here are nine reasons why video games can help your child develop and learn, based on my study.
Gameplay Can Teach Problem-Solving Techniques
The growth of a child’s brain can be aided by video games. For instance, I observed my kid playing Legend of Zelda video games when he was a young adolescent. To move forward, he had to search, bargain, plan, and attempt various strategies. Many additional games that require planning and problem-solving were being published at the same time as my research, including Bakugan: Defenders of the Core.
Additionally, “modding,” the process by which players alter the appearance of their characters and create new game levels, enables imaginative self-expression, a thorough comprehension of the rules and structure of the game, and innovative methods of showcasing personalities and hobbies. Therefore, even though they aren’t classified as “educational,” video games can nonetheless teach kids how to make choices, employ methods, foresee outcomes, and express their personalities.
Playing video games might spark an interest in culture and history.
Certain video games’ narratives can inspire young people to read and conduct study. For instance, if parents are aware of opportunities, video games like Age of Mythology, Civilization, and Age of Empires may pique a child’s interest in global history, geography, ancient cultures, and international politics.
According to researchers David Shaffer and James Gee, “When children have parents who help turn Age of Mythology into an island of expertise, tying it to books, Internet sites, museums, and media about mythology, cultures, and geography, the children pick up a wide range of complex language, content, and connections that serve as a foundation for learning that will be highly complex and deep in the future.”
In addition, these games frequently let kids create and trade custom maps or other kinds of content, which encourages them to develop their technical and creative abilities while having fun.
Making Friends Through Video Games for Children
Unlike their parents, most young children view playing video games as a social activity rather than an isolating one. Young children can socialize, hang out, and spend scheduled time with pals thanks to video games.
Boys in our research’s focus groups reported that gaming were frequently the topic of talk among their classmates. For instance, one student reported that his schoolmates’ main topics of conversation were “girls and games—the two Gs.”
Furthermore, our study discovered that youngsters with mild learning difficulties were more likely to identify “making new friends” as their primary motivation for playing video games.
Video Games Can Promote Activity
In my research, gamers (particularly boys) discussed picking up new skills from sports video games and honing them on skateboards or basketball courts. Some people started playing new sports after learning about them in video games.
As one teen admitted in a study focus group, “You can watch them make incredible plays in the real games, which are primarily sports games. You might improve if you use them outside and keep practicing.”
According to studies, playing realistic sports video games enhanced the amount of time people spent exercising and practicing sports in real life (with the exception of tournament combat).
Playing video games can encourage healthy competition
Kids competing with their peers as they battle for status and recognition is normal and healthy. “I prefer to compete with other people and win” was one of the most frequently cited justifications for playing video games, again, especially among boys, in my surveys and focus group research with early teens.
Children who don’t love sports can nevertheless succeed by channeling their competitive desires in video games, which provide a safe environment for doing so.
Video Games Can Provide Opportunities for Leadership
When playing video games with friends, kids frequently alternate between leading and following depending on who possesses the necessary game-specific skills. It’s beneficial to explain and demonstrate games to others in order to improve leadership abilities including persuasion, motivation, and conflict resolution.
Online multiplayer games also give teenagers a unique opportunity to be a part of, and occasionally even coach, a diverse, mixed-age team. And if you can lead the squad to victory, it doesn’t matter how old you are.
Games Can Encourage Creativity
A correlation between some video games and creativity was discovered in an experimental study that was published in the Creativity Research Journal. The 352 participants either watched a TV show, played a race car game, or played Minecraft with or without instruction.
Researchers discovered that people who played Minecraft on their own used the most ingenuity when completing following assignments. According to researchers, this could be because when they were playing, they had the most freedom to think independently.
There Are Teaching Opportunities in Video Games
A third or so of the kids in our study claimed that they played video games in part because they enjoyed showing other kids how to play. During investigation, the father of one boy said “Solving problems in the context of a game dominates his son’s interactions with his friends. It all comes down to how you get from one location to another, or how you gather the specific items you require and put them together in ways that would enable you to achieve.”
Some kids become known as the “go-to” kids who can beat the hardest levels of a game. Teaching others improves patience as well as social and communication skills.
After her 7-year-character old’s was sexually assaulted in an online game, the mother is advising parents to be cautious.
Video games can bring together parents and children.
My memory of seeing my friend’s 10-year-old daughter teach her how to play Guitar Hero is forever etched by my research. Favorite songs from my friend’s adolescence and college years were included in the game, which drew her in. The nicest part was watching the daughter master the game and teach her mother how to play it—reversing the typical parent-child relationship.
Sharing gaming time is becoming more feasible as a result of some video game systems being more user-friendly for beginners. Additionally, playing a video game together fosters casual discussion, which in turn might inspire your youngster to discuss their struggles and victories with you.