How video games benefit kids

Get this: video games can actually help our kids. Shocked? I certainly was, before doing a bit of research on the topic. For many of us, video games beyond “Pac Man” are something of a daunting mystery. But today’s children pick up complicated game controllers and in moments are playing incredibly involved games like experts. And even young children are getting into the mix. But should we be worried about this? Moderation is certainly the key; nothing is healthy if it’s all you do. But as part of a balanced active lifestyle, video game play actually helps children develop and teaches a unique set of skills at a younger age than was possible before the age of technology. Here’s a look at a few of the ways video games will benefit your kids.

Overall, video games are much healthier for a child than television. Television tends to dull the mind. Your kids simply turn off when the tube is on. Video games, on the other hand, are incredibly interactive. They offer actual stimulation of the senses, pushing your child with critical thinking and entertainment that they interact with.
One of the ways video games help children is focus. I know, we’re all worried about attention deficit disorder, but video games have been shown to have no part in that. Video games take a single-minded focus. You can’t play a video game and do anything else. If you’re not paying attention during game play the character dies, the puzzle goes unsolved or the level is lost. And because the focus of video games is having fun (note the presence of the word ‘game’), your kids won’t notice how locked in they are. They may have trouble concentrating on homework, but never on the game.

Video games also help children enjoy success while growing more accepting of failure. No child, no matter how gifted, beats a video game the first time through. Some of the more complicated games actually take study, reading player guides, and hunting down strategies online. Because our world today is so focused on rewarding mediocrity (attendance awards in school?), the video game environment may be one of the only places your child experiences having to earn their success. There are no shortcuts, and kids will work incredibly hard to figure it out. Recent studies have shown that these success or failure outcomes actually help kids in the real world as well. Beyond growing accustomed to having to work for success, it will also let your kids know that failure is part of the process. Anything worth doing generally takes a lot of failure before you get it right. And if you quit before breaking through to the other side, you gain nothing. Kids who play video games understand that failure is just a part of the process, and an integral step in improving and learning.

Another bonus of video game play is showing children the benefits of taking a calculated risk. Nothing in life happens without a risk somewhere along the line, and video games are built around taking leaps without knowing the outcome. Kids that grow accustomed to this may be more willing to accept risk-taking as a part of their lives, and attempt new, potentially uncomfortable challenges without concern.

Video games also offer opportunities to hone several physical and mental skills. Video games help mental development by improving memory and retention, processing and quick decision-making. Games these days are incredibly complex, and memorizing all the icons, button combinations and skills will help kids pick up other tasks more quickly. Becoming expert at video games also takes intense hand-eye coordination. Anyone that’s ever played 3D live pool or any pool simulation games knows that it’s not just a matter of pushing buttons, but when and how you push them. Quick reflexes are aided by all these opportunities to practice. These physical and mental skill sets will all come into play in your child’s future career, regardless of the industry.

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