Video gaming has traditionally received a bad reputation amongst parents, with the focus being on potential negative effects rather than benefits. The truth is that video games have a wide range of potential benefits for your child. What’s even better is the fact that almost every video game has these benefits, not just the ones labeled as educational.
Whether kids are strategically planning how to get their character from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B,’ or using hand-eye coordination to achieve the perfect slam-dunk, they’re developing important cognitive and physical skills without even realizing it. Since kids will likely never complain about playing video games, it’s an ideal educational tool to promote learning and development. So, before reprimanding them for neglecting to turn off their game, take a look at the skills they are developing, and parents just might decide to reward them instead.
Fine Motor Skills
Some of the first skills babies should develop are fine motor skills, including hand-eye coordination. For children who struggle with this, video games have become an ideal training tool. Video game controllers require children to press small buttons in a specific sequence to move characters in a certain way. Let’s say a child is playing a basketball video game. As they work towards perfecting a slam-dunk, they must coordinate their brain, eyes, and fingers to press the buttons in the correct order. This coordination develops advanced fine motor skills that can benefit them beyond the game.
While many parents who watch children zone out while playing a video game may think it’s numbing their brain, the opposite is actually true. Spending time playing video games can help with your child’s overall cognitive function. The intense concentration they use while playing their favorite video game actually promotes focus, memory, and perceptiveness in other areas of their life – like the classroom. Even more, strategy-based games develop critical thinking and decision-making skills that also benefit children outside of the game.
While video gamers are often labeled ‘antisocial,’ playing video games can actually be a very social activity. The vast majority of gamers play with their friends in the room, while only 20 percent of gamers play alone. Kids who play video games with friends develop important teamwork capabilities as they work together to achieve common goals. Kids engage and develop critical communication skills as they work in tandem with other players to complete tasks and compete against other players.
It might be surprising, but video games can have therapeutic effects and act as an effective stress reliever. After a stressful day at school, video games can promote the same relaxation for kids that adults experience from binge-watching their favorite reality show. Taking a mental time-out is crucial for children, especially those with mental or emotional disorders. Having an emotional outlet that distracts the mind and allows them to relax lowers their risk for depression, boosts memory, and aids in decision-making capabilities. The fun they have while playing video games is simply an added bonus!
There are so many learning opportunities that video games provide, perhaps gifting your child with that gaming console they’ve desperately wanted isn’t such a bad idea after all. Aside from promoting important skills, gaming can also bring the family together. Let kids teach you how to play their favorite game. So, forget the negative stigma associated with gaming and embrace it as the fun-filled learning tool that it can be.
Kali Muir is an ambitious freelance writer with a BA in Communications. She was born in Canada but has since lived in Norway, Denmark, and England. Her work experience is as diverse as her past addresses, including roles in technical communication, corporate communication, marketing, and article writing. She has experience working in varied business sectors: Oil & Gas, Engineering & Technology, Clothing & Equipment Retail, and Creative Writing. Follow Kali’s professional and personal journey at www.kalimuir.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.