Improving Self-Awareness with Video Games

Your 12-year-old daughter is playing Mario Kart 7 Wii with her 9-year-old sister. They are laughing and having a great time, but the 9-year-old is getting a bit frustrated because she keeps crashing and coming in last place. Your older daughter is aware of the reasons why she’s coming in last place and begins pointing out some simple things she can learn in order to get better. For example, she points out places on the track where her sister can get power-ups that will help her keep up with the other cars. As your younger daughter plays, she gets ongoing encouragement from her older sister to keep trying to get better.

Your 9-year-old begins to do better and is no longer in last place, but she’s still struggling. Your older daughter suggests that maybe she should try a bike rather than a car. She tells her that she’s mostly crashing on the corners, and that the bikes are a lot easier to drive around corners. Your younger daughter tries a bike, gets a bunch of power-ups, and before you know it, she’s challenging her older sister for first place.

Video games and other digital technologies are often a great place for tech-savvy kids to pass on their knowledge to their less tech-savvy siblings and frequently their parents. In order to be a good technology teacher, you’ve got to understand not only what you’re teaching, but also what your student knows and doesn’t know.

In the scenario described here, the older sister used her Self-Awareness skills when she recognized the need to go from simple to complex, encouraged practice and learning, and offered suggestions, rather than telling her sister what to do. She also practiced her social skills, of listening and observation, in order to help her sister in a way that she would want to accept her assistance. These skills are extremely useful not only in teaching technology to a novice, but also when helping children to learn new skills in math or science, or when learning a new sport or musical instrument.

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