Do you remember when video games first hit mainstream culture? Or, perhaps you remember when Nintendo began showing up in almost every living room? What did your mom or grandma say? Chances are she was warning you about how that crazy box would rot your brain.
Well, today’s video games have come a long way from the Pac Man and Mario Brothers of prior generations, and now, when used properly, they can actually be good for kids. And that is a good thing, because with the speed at which technology is growing, there is little chance for kids to grow up without some time playing video games
Have you looked at the video games offered by LeapFrog and similar companies? There is no denying the educational benefit of these. They can enhance early reading, promote letter recognition, introduce early math skills and even help children develop problem-solving strategies. But these benefits are not limited to companies who target the educational gaming market. Most major gaming consoles and computer software companies offer educational programming, and all games encourage problem solving skills.
Yes, the video games of today actually offer the chance to exercise, or at least some of them do systems like the Xbox Kinnect and Nintendo Wii require the user to get off of the floor and up on his feet in order to play. In fact, these games can give you quite a workout, and when exercise is fun, kids don’t even realize they are doing it.
Encouraging team work
Multi-player gaming, at least the kind that is in a safe environment, is a great way to encourage kids to learn to work together. They will have to work with other players to create a strategy and overcome obstacles in order to win the game. Consider the popular World of Warcraft game. In this, kids have to learn to delegate, work as a team and strive towards a common goal. This game is immensely popular with older kids and teens, and it teaches these valuable lifelong skills.
Debates may rage as to whether or not an individual can multitask well, but the fact remains that multitasking is becoming increasingly important in our technology driven age. When you play a video game, your brain, eyes and fingers must all work together as you play. This is multitasking at its finest.
When your kids play video games, they learn how to play in groups even in a competitive environment, which is socially beneficial. Families who play video games together can have fun while teaching their children to be good winners and losers, all in an environment that has little real meaning. This, in turn, allows the kids to have the right attitudes in real life situations where they may come out a winner or loser.
Video games are, by their very nature, a trial and error system. Kids who learn to keep at it until they pass a level or win the game build confidence. Figuring out and then mastering a difficult game helps kids feel great about themselves and gives them encouragement to try harder things in the future.
Benefits for the future
Let’s face it: technology is not going anywhere. Kids who learn who to use it when they are young will be better prepared for a future that is going to be even more steeped in technology. A kindergartener who has never touched a computer mouse is at a tremendous disadvantage over her peers, and that disadvantage is easily remedied with some time playing video games.
Video games are likely to remain part of popular culture, so learning how to utilize them is a vital part of parenting. While kids still need to be sent outside to play and should learn to use their imaginations, video games have their place. In light of these benefits, parents can stop feeling guilty the next time they let their kids play something digital.
Cassie is a lover of yoga and the arts. In her free time, she enjoys blogging on behalf of Sears and other great brands she loves.