Yes, you read that correctly. While the general consensus of most parents is that their kids are addicted to video games, and don’t do much else in their free time, there is a school of thought (backed up by research) that if controlled, playing video games can actually benefit kids in various ways. Like most things in life, balance is key to bringing out the positive effects of gaming in kids.
Let’s take a look at five ways playing video games can actually benefit kids.
Helps Build Visual And Spatial Skills
Lots of video games today (including the popular Minecraft) are built with advanced technology, where during the course of the game, the child needs to navigate through virtual 3D worlds. This helps build their spatial and visual skills as they have to figure it out themselves, without the help of a map or a satellite navigation system. This eventually helps them develop a better understanding of distance and space.
2. Helps Improve Reading Skills
This might seem like an odd connection but keep reading…
Studies show that children who play video games often improve their reading skills. Here’s how: when children are stuck at a particular point or level in the game, they can get help from websites that give clues and instructions on how to pass that particular stage or overcome a specific challenge. For instance, how to defeat a villain in the Lego Marvel Avengers game or how to achieve the fastest time in the Forza Horizon 4 Drag Car game. So even if kids don’t like reading traditional books, they will not think twice about reading information or instructions pertaining to their favourite game online or elsewhere.
3. Helps Enhance Creativity And Imagination
Video games today are highly advanced as compared to the basic games available in the nineties. With all the awesome visual effects and storylines in the games, kids use their imagination and creativity through the course of the game.
Video games are essentially ‘imaginative play’ for older kids (like pretend-play and Lego blocks are to smaller children).
4. Helps With Problem-Solving And Thinking Abilities
The basis of every video game is to solve a challenge. And while video games might seem like mindless, hypnotising entertainment to parents, the fact of the matter is that your child is using his cognitive skills and thinking abilities to overcome challenges and solve problems. Be it solving a puzzle or figuring out who the villain is, and then catching him, video games do make children think out of the box. They also help kids improve their planning and organization skills.
5. Helps Kids Make Social Connections
Some children find it difficult to make friends, or feel shy or awkward or feel as though they don’t ‘fit in’. However, when they are playing a video game behind a screen, they can shed that persona and gain confidence in their gaming abilities. Video games become their refuge and help them gain confidence in themselves and help them make friends – virtually and otherwise. However, it is extremely important for parents to monitor who their kids interact with online, especially if it’s an unknown identity.