We are obviously pro-gaming over here, as testing and writing about video games is part of my job. My son benefits from this with exposure to a lot of different video games at a young age. Though some people may not exactly see that as a “benefit” and more of a negative aspect, our Guest Geek post today points out six useful skills that kids can actually develop and improve through playing video games. I actually wrote a similar post a couple years ago about how gaming can be good for kids, with examples of how I was using games to help my son with math and reading. This guest post covers some of those same skills, along with a couple I hadn’t thought of. Read on to learn why it’s ok to support their Minecraft obsession and how it’s not such a bad thing after all.
6 Useful Skills That Kids Can Develop and Improve by Playing Video Games
Many people have the misplaced belief that playing video games is a waste of time. While many games offer little value beyond mindless entertainment, most games offer a well-thought-out world and experience that teaches the player valuable skills. If you’re wondering how playing video games can help your child, consider these useful skills they can learn through gaming.
Most stories are structured around a problem that the hero must solve. Many video games follow the same structure, with the added immersive experience of putting the player in the protagonist’s shoes. Children who play quest, action, and puzzle games get the added benefit of developing problem-solving skills.
Even those who learn how to code mods and game cheats engage in problem solving while developing computer skills that could spark a career in software development. There are great resources by Guided Hacking to help develop these skills further.
Video games allow children to develop creativity and self-expression. Minecraft is an excellent example of a game that helps a child develop creative skills while thinking through problem solving and basic design. While creating a small town with simple, square houses may seem banal to an adult, it’s unlocking a world of imagination for children. So when your child wants to share what they’ve created in game worlds, take the time to look and offer encouragement.
Children need to learn how to lose. Without learning how to handle a minor, inconsequential loss, children won’t be able to process real-world scenarios as they learn and grow. Playing competitive video games offers a safe way to learn to lose (or win) without being a poor sport. For a more realistic experience, a child can play, compete, and hone their skills through multi-player or one-on-one games played virtually through machines like a golf simulator.
Patience and Stress Management
Most gamers have a distinct memory of a game, level, or move that they struggled to master. Whether it’s the water temple in Zelda or that one level in Tetris you couldn’t get past as a child, every gamer has their gauntlet.
Experiencing the struggles of a challenging game presents an opportunity to learn patience and stress management. Staying calm under pressure is an invaluable skill. It doesn’t matter if you learn it while playing a video game; it comes in handy as an adult.
Social Skills and Cooperation
One of the benefits of our interconnected world is that people from all over can come together to play games online. This presents an opportunity to learn how to strategize and cooperate with a team, and may even lead to the development of leadership skills.
When playing video games in a collaborative environment, you’ll navigate team conflict, strategy sessions, communications, and shared successes. That’s a powerful skill!
Finally, playing video games can plant the seed for real-world financial management. Learning to save up gold coins or gems for skins or supplies is a lesson in how money works. Chances are your child will spend their gold and lack the resources to get something they really want. This will be a lesson to practice patience and consider whether instant gratification is worth the expense.
Editor’s Note: I was obsessed with this game called Lemonade Stand in 8th grade. You only got to play it in computer class once you finished your assignment. It was all about buying supplies and selling lemonade. I credit that game and one called Tai Pan with teaching me the financial and entrepreneurial skills I used to start my own business, back when I had my costume shop. Although with Tai Pan, I was buying and selling weapons and opium on the high seas as a pirate. That game taught me to never borrow too much money, or the money lender will beat you up or sink your fleet, lol.
While playing video games won’t teach your child everything they need to know about life, they are picking up skills along the way. Setting boundaries and limits for gameplay is important. Still, video games aren’t the mind-numbing experience you may have been led to believe. With a little guidance and supervision, games can be a positive learning experience for your child.