So, I’m a gamer and a mom, and I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that I let my kids play video games. Contrary to what a lot of parents assume, my kids actually play fewer games than most of their friends and have a lot more restrictions on what they’re allowed to play. Because I am familiar with most of the popular titles, I am better able to select what’s appropriate for them and don’t just assume all games are “toys” and ok for kids… I could say a lot more on that subject, but that’s a post for another time ;)
Maybe you wonder if your kids are spending too much time playing video games, or if you’re doing something wrong but letting them “veg out” in front of the screen. Personally, I would prefer my kids select gaming for their screen time (1-4 hours per week-end, none during the week, if you’re wondering) than TV or movies; let me tell you why:
Top 5 Reasons You Should Let Your Kids Play Video Games:
1: Literacy and Numeracy Skills This is particularly true of “edutainment” type games, but really all games require a certain amount of reading, and many present math and logic challenges. If you want to actively build a particular skill set, there are games that will help specifically with math, or spanish, or what have you, but most genres offer some degree of reading and reasoning [certainly more than television or movies].
2: Teamwork Kids can play together locally or online (following internet safety precautions, of course!), and there are a number of great games out there that encourage cooperative play. My 10 and 8 year olds are big fans of the LEGO series of games, which are all designed for two player cooperative play. The kids need to work together to solve problems and meet objectives, plan strategies and share rewards.
3: Building Self Esteem Video games are great tools for building self esteem, as they provide immediate feedback for a job well done and allow the child to feel a measure of success they don’t always have at school or in social situations. This is a particular bonus for kids who are loners or have learning challenges. Games provide a clear objective and reward for accomplishing it, which makes kids feel great.
4: Social Skills This is one you probably didn’t expect, but there is research that shows teens who play video games play with others more often than not, and that 85% percent of the time they rate other player’s behaviour as “generous and helpful”. There is a lot of pro-social behaviour in the online gaming world and kids have the opportunity both to “meet” people from all over the world (again, you need to take safety precautions with online interactions) and to “hang out” online with their real world friends.
5: Fun Video games are fun, that’s why kids like them, and there’s nothing wrong with that! I think the mainstream media has scared many parents into thinking games are bad or dangerous, when the truth is there are a lot of great games for kids out there. There is nothing wrong with doing something just because you like it. As long as you select games that are appropriate for your children’s age and ability, let them enjoy!
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