Video games have long been demonized as detrimental to the development of children and that there is a need for help for video game addicts. It seems that every time you hear anything about a video came it is either being associated to violence amongst children, verbal or otherwise, or with the ever-popular threat of addiction. Video games have become scapegoats for every modern societal ill that can be much more easily blamed on them (or violent movies, or Dungeons and Dragons, or heavy metal…) than on the radical changes in society and some people’s inability to cope.
But despite all the bad publicity, video games can be a wonderful tool in your children’s development, since a very young age. One thing that video games have always had going for them is the way they enhance a child’s innate creativity and problem-solving skills, being in many way similar to building blocks, Mecano or similar toys.
Young and very young children can benefit from video games immensely. It has long been known that fun learning activities help a child acquire new skills a lot faster than by simple tutoring and the best example of this are educative television programs like Sesame Street that have been proven by independent testing to have a direct impact on literacy rates. Educative video games starring characters the children know and love like Dora the explorer or Spongebob Squarepants can teach them a lot about pattern recognition, hand-eye coordination or even about such topics as basic arithmetic or spelling. While a computer is no substitute for parenting or teaching it can be a powerful tool in your child’s development.
Children who are no longer of Spongebob Squarepants age can still learn quite a bit from video games. Object find and logic puzzle games and games like Minecraft can help them immensely. Minecraft is a particular example as it combines the very best reasoning skills and logic based gameplay with a treasure trove of creativity. Players can mine blocks of different types and use them to build structures while exploring the world around them and harvesting more advanced resources, perpetuating the cycle. By playing a game that fosters both creativity and logic skills a child is learning how to look at the world around him creatively and analytically. No wonder that Minecraft has been integrated into several classroom curricula and is being used to teach everything from science to basic sociology.
Video games are far from the problem-generators that media often portrays them as being. Instead they can be wonderful development tools for children of all ages that help them better understand the world around them.