Healthy, well-functioning kids do not spend all of their time playing video games, surfing the Internet, or consumed by digital media. As responsible parents, we know that we must ensure that our children are engaged in physical, social, educational, artistic, and unstructured play, as well. However, we must also not forget that in today’s world digital play is an important part of growing up and becoming a digital citizen, fully prepared for a future in which there is an ever-increasing necessity for digital literacy. The benefits of video games, when played responsibly, can be a healthy part of a child’s digital play.
Here are some important things to remember when making decisions about your child’s video game play.
1. Games are social. More than 65% of children who play video games play them with other children, and playing video games together has become an important part of kids learning how to socialize.
2. Video games improve hand/eye coordination, selective attention, and visual-processing skills. There is excellent research that indicates that video games can improve driving skills, delicate hand control, and the ability to shift attention effectively from one thing to another.
3. Video games help kids practice reading skills. Many games, especially games on mobile and handheld devices, require players to read for instructions, power-up details, and story. By making reading a fun part of the game, kids get the practice they need without feeling like they’re working.
4. Video games are a lot of fun, and you ought to let your kids have fun.
5. Games teach digital literacy skills. Unquestionably, kids will need to be proficient with technology in order to succeed in the future. Think how often adults born before 1985 (who are referred to as “digital immigrants”, not having grown up with video games and computers) need their children or other people to assist them in learning how to use the tools that are necessary for you in today’s world.
6. Video games encourage learning and provide information about academic subjects such as history (Civilization V), business (Roller Coaster Tycoon), and science (Spore).
7. Video games may help children to handle stress and combat signs of depression. Two recent studies describe how video game play is related to less symptoms of depression and how children identify relaxation as one of the primary reasons they play video games.