Video games are often seen by many teachers and parents as a negative activity that students play in their free time, instead of studying. Even though it’s common to focus on the potential dangers of gaming, it’s easy to forget that parent-approved games played in moderation can be highly engaging and help students develop important life skills, as well as enhance their learning. Here’s some more hidden benefits of gaming, and why it’s important to keep an open mind when it comes to letting your kids play videos games.
Improves Problem-Solving Skills
Most video games involve certain rules, alongside specific quests and challenges. This means the player has to think very carefully before making any decisions to make sure they progress to the next level. Often this involves tasks such as searching, negotiating, planning and trying many different approaches so they can advance further in the game. Not only does this help kids practice using problem-solving skills, but can also enhance brain development.
When kids play their favourite video games, they’re improving both their long-term and short-term memory without even realising it. Not only are players required to remember specific instructions that need to be kept in mind throughout game play, often specific key coordinates will be shortcuts to save the game or move the character in a certain way. For games that have worlds to move through or a base camp, it’s not unusual for kids to be able to quickly memorise areas they’ve been before or know how to find the way back to base camp easily.
Improves Attention and Concentration
Video games are considered to have a negative effect on a player’s attention span and concentration. However, the opposite may be true. Video games, especially action games, often capture kids’ attention for the entire period of the game. This, alongside the need to achieve certain objectives or progress to the next level of the game, means the players attention span and concentration levels are tested to the limit.
Improves Social Skills
As well as improving life skills, playing video games can also have a positive effect on social skills. In fact, many kids see video games as a social activity, not an isolating one. Often games involve constant communication between players which results in meaningful friendships and a build-up of communities. Many games also allow for multiplayer participation, and even solo players can chat with others about their experiences and solve problems collaboratively. All of this social activity can even improve kids’ self-esteem, and being part of a team and making new friends can also help with depression and anxiety.
Inspires Interests in History and Culture
The content of certain video games can sometimes spark a child's interest in world history, geography and ancient cultures. It’s important for parents to recognise these opportunities and encourage kids to follow up on their curiosities. Whether this is getting some books from a library to browse through or planning a visit to a museum - it’s a fantastic way to get kids learning and build up interests outside of gaming.
Improves Leadership Skills
When children play video games together in groups, usually they have to take turns in leading their team or following instructions from a leader. This can help develop leadership skills such as decision making, persuading and motivating others as well as resolving disagreements. On the opposite end, it can help them recognise the importance of being part of a team and how a victory together can be much more rewarding than achieving it solo.