It’s estimated that more than 90% of children between the ages of 2 and 17 play video games in North America. In the past, video games have been perceived by many as a time-wasting distraction, but in more recent years, they have been looked at in a more positive light as they are now considered a way for children to make social connections, learn, and be creative.
Because it is almost inevitable that your child will play video games at some point, let’s look at the ways it can be beneficial to them and share some educational games for them to consider playing.
Here are some of the ways that video games can be helpful to your children:
- Improved Problem Solving and Logic Skills
A 2015 study found that playing video games can make you learn faster, increase your ability to focus on a task, and improve motor control. Many games require a large amount of planning and strategic thinking to achieve success in the game, so those brain muscles are consistently being utilized and developed.
- Faster Decision-Making
Even if a video game isn’t labelled as “educational,” they can still help children to develop their decision-making skills. Playing games requires strategies, anticipating consequences, and reacting quickly to situations.
- Enhanced Social Connections
Video games can help children to make friends. Many children see video games as a social activity and a way to bond with other children with similar interests. Gaming is a popular conversation topic amongst students at school and an excellent icebreaker for children trying to expand their friend base and make positive connections. Research has found that many children listed “making new friends” as a reason for playing video games.
- Better Hand-Eye Coordination
A 2014 study at the University of Toronto found that people who play video games learn new sensorimotor skills faster than those who don’t play. This means that children who play video games are more quickly able to learn and adopt tasks that require hand-to-eye coordination. Many video games require quick reflexes when connecting what you see on the screen to what buttons need to be pressed, which can have many real-world applications, such as typing and playing sports.
- Enriched Cooperation Skills
Often, playing games requiring the player to be on a team can lead to strategic planning, coordinating, and sharing knowledge and skills with fellow players. This can improve collaboration skills and make children more effective and comfortable when working in groups at school.
- Established Parent-Child Bonding Experience
Children aren’t the only ones who are gamers. It’s estimated that 65% of adults play video games on at least one platform. Playing video games with your child can create fun bonding moments. Children love showing off their skills and competitive spirit, and many games are fun for the whole family.
Some fun educational games that are suitable for children are:
- The Magic School Bus Series
- The Oregon Trail Series
- National Geographic Challenge
- Big Brain Academy
- Little Big Planet
Further, games like Age of Mythology, Age of Empires, and Civilization may spark an interest in geography and ancient cultures.
Video games can have all the benefits mentioned above but can also become addictive. That’s why it’s essential to set time limits on how much they can play. You should also be aware of the game ratings system, which tells you if a game is appropriate for your child’s age. Every game has a rating on the packaging and typically falls under the rating of E (For Everyone), E10+ (Ages 10 and above), Teen (Ages 13 and up), or M (Mature, ages 17+).
All in all, there can be many benefits to having video games as a positive part of your child’s recreational life if they play in moderation and choose fun, challenging games.