You may not like it that your child loves to play video games. Rather than trying to ban games from your home, we encourage you to make sure that your child engages in a healthy balance of other activities including spending time outdoors, exercising, reading, or hanging out with family. Then, when it comes time for playing video games, look for some of the benefits that come with moderate amounts of play.
Here are some reasons to let your child play.
1. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. Playing video games facilitates communication with your children’s peers, helps them to be aware of what others are doing, and gives them a set of things to talk about.
2. Video games are good for learning. The immediacy of feedback and reinforcement along with the capacity of games to match challenge to the child’s level of mastery facilitates learning. This may be particularly true for children who have academic and attention issues or those whom we call alternative learners. Students who do not learn as well in traditional settings often find digital technologies and media to be incredibly powerful tools for learning academic subjects.
3. It can make for closer relationships amongst family members. In particular, girls who play more video games with their parents display more pro-social behavior towards family members.
4. Video games teach 21st century skills. Twenty-first century skills are being touted as the most important goal of our educational system. Video games skills such as collaboration, understanding of technology, and creativity in problem solving are the core of 21st century skills.
5. Video games can support outside interests. For example, kids who play sports video games, actually are more likely to spend increased time going outside to play those sports. Many children will take their interests in video games to search the web to learn more about how games are made or to learn how to “mod” games, using a variety of other technologies.
6. Video games can teach important thinking skills such as Organization, Planning, Flexibility, and many others. Our research at LearningWorks for Kids demonstrates how children use these skills in games and with parental, peer, or educator assistance can then connect them to real-world learning.
7. Video games provide an opportunity for children to become more socially-engaged and active. They can learn about savings and debt with games like Debt Ski, civics and law with games like Do I Have a Right, and energy conservation in games like World Without Oil.