It’s not everyday that you see a mainstream media outlet extolling the virtues of how video games can be good for kids. But in a surprise turn, that’s just what TheStreet.com’s MainStreet does in recent article 5 Ways Video Games Benefit Kids, an effort which we were happy to support by providing insight into the many positive ways in which video games can impact children of all ages’ lives.
No matter if you’re playing on the PC or PlayStation 3, Wii or Xbox 360, be sure to show it to friends and colleagues who believe that games are all violent, misogynistic and destined to corrupt today’s youth – all gross misconceptions. (Unless, of course, you count the number of aspiring little felons using DS Flash cards or PSP hacks to play pirated games illegally on playgrounds across the globe, but hey, that’s another story…)
Among the good, wholesome and upstanding ways that video games can impact a child’s life? Consider our own top five list as follows, with many other good points brought up within the clip itself:
- Interactivity – Games require greater engagement than passive forms of entertainment such as television shows and movies, and encourage critical and lateral thinking skills, with problem-solving part and parcel of virtually every video game experience, mo matter if you’re playing a puzzle game, adventure, hidden object title, real-time strategy epic or role-playing outing. Dynamic decision-making is also often encouraged, as is resource allocation and management. All of which, naturally, adds up to more viewer involvement, and greater reason to put that old gray matter to work.
- Education – Video games – and not just serious games at that – have tremendous power to teach and inform, whether you’re talking about Bookworm Adventures‘ ability to boost kids’ vocabulary or Civilization V‘s potential to inspire a passion for ancient history. Games can also be used to communicate differing perspectives, and allow players to view scenarios from a variety of viewpoints and concerned parties’ eyes, fostering greater understanding and sympathy. Besides, you’d be amazed how many award-winning essays are written these days thanks to an entire generation’s exposure to instruction manuals for titles like Ultima and Wizardry.
- Physicality – A number of fitness-oriented titles such as Wii Fit, Your Shape and Dance Central exist that help promote proper exercise and taking care of one’s health, and present a fun, intuitive way to work up a sweat while providing encouragement to keep plugging away at an otherwise tedious and demanding workout routine. These games can actually inspire a passion for proper eating and exercise habits, and help kids and adults burn calories instead of piling them on. Just try to go easy on those copies of Personal Trainer: Walking; as a birthday gift, it just doesn’t have quite the same ring as Super Mario Galaxy 2.
- Socialization – With multiplayer and online gaming components part and parcel of so many gaming experiences today, the stereotype of gamers as socially awkward shut-ins is rapidly becoming outdated. In fact, from Club Penguin to Free Realms, dozens of interactive offerings exist that can help introduce kids to new perspectives and cultures, not to mention other enthusiasts like themselves from all over the world. Many of these games also foster teamwork, cooperation and project management skills, as goals must be accomplished by groups of people working together. (Who knew World of Warcraft was training tomorrow’s business leaders?) In short, they’re a great way to prepare yourself for today’s increasingly globalized world, and make friends on every continent.
- Psychology – Failure isn’t just a part of life – it’s how we learn. Allowing players to tackle scenarios from multiple approaches, then reattempt them from new angles when initial tactics don’t work without fear of ridicule or reprisal, games can actually help build self-confidence and self-esteem. They’re also a great way to build a bond between parents and children, as powerful shared experiences (e.g. saving the universe or rescuing the princess from the evil dragon) not only build trust as players work towards common objectives, but also provide ready topics of conversation, common ground, and excuses to spend more time with one another.