Video games are good for your brain… as long as you’re doing plenty of other things that are also good for your brain. So before you go tell your parents and teachers why you should play video games to improve your Thinking Skills, make sure you’re exercising, spending time face-to-face with your friends and family, doing something artistic and creative, and getting outdoors and enjoying nature. Then, and only then, will video games be great for your brain.
To make games great for your brain, you need to follow a few rules. These include:
- Play hard games. Easy games that aren’t much of a challenge won’t make you think too much, so they don’t provide much exercise for your brain.
- Play games that are fun for you. The more fun it is, the more likely you are to stay really focused, keep working at it when it becomes hard, and be creative in your problem solving. A person who finds playing Minecraft to be a blast is far more likely to be creative and engaged than someone who finds the game to be boring.
- Don’t play only one type of game. Even if your favorite games are shooters, find other games that are fun, are a challenge to your brain. When you only play shooters, for example, you’re likely to practice skills such as Planning, social awareness (if it’s a multi-player game), and Working Memory, but you won’t practice other types of skills such as Organization and Time Management that you might use in puzzle games.
- Learn by teaching. Find a younger sibling or a newcomer to the game. Think carefully about how you teach them to beat the game. Great teachers will tell you that they learn more when they are teaching rather than when they are learning from somebody else because they need to consider what’s important to teach and how to communicate it.