Why You Should Say 'YES' to Your Kids Playing Video Games
As parents, we tend to focus more on potential dangers than on the potential benefits of video games, but these games are a normal part of modern childhood. If you know what to look for, video games can be a powerful tool to help children develop certain life skills. Video games can help teach children problem-solving skills, express their creativity, help make new friends, and also strengthen the bond with their parents.
Bringing Parents and Kids Together
I’ve watched a friend’s 10-year-old daughter teach her how to play Guitar Hero. The game happened to include favorite songs from my friend’s teen and college years, which helped draw her in. The best part was seeing the daughter become an expert and share gaming skills with her mom–a reversal of the usual parent-child roles. Now that some video game systems are friendlier to novice players, it’s increasingly possible to share game time together. Plus, playing a video game side-by-side encourages easy conversation, which in turn may encourage your child to share her problems and triumphs with you.
Problem Solving & Creativity
Video games can help children’s brain development. Games like the Legend of Zelda series make it so players have to search, negotiate, plan, and try different approaches to advance. Many recent games, such as Hello Neighbor, involve planning and problem-solving. “Modding,” the process by which players customize gamer characters’ appearance and develop new game levels, also allows for creative self-expression, deep understanding of game rules and structure, and new ways of highlighting personalities and interests. Video games don’t have to be labeled “educational” to help children learn to make decisions, use strategies, anticipate consequences and express their personalities.
Making New Friends
In contrast to their parents, most young kids see video games as a social activity, not an isolating one. Video games create a common ground for young kids to make friends; allow kids to hang out; and provide structured time with friends. In our research, kids were more likely to play video games with a group of friends, either in the same room or online. Plus, young boys said games were a frequent focus for conversation among their peers. Our research found that children with mild learning disabilities were likely to choose “making new friends” as a reason they played video games.