Are Computer Games Dangerous for your Child’s Development?
Forget the old stereotypes – your child is probably a gamer regardless of whether they’re sporty or bookish, outgoing or private, in their nappy or in their teens. Recent studies have shown that 99% of boys and 94% of girls play videogames, with half of these children playing on a daily basis. Given these adoption rates, many parents are interested in the impact these games have on their child’s development. The good news for parents is that it’s not bad news! Read on to find out more about how gaming can positively grow and challenge your child.
If you haven’t picked up a controller since Pong was a smash hit, you might be surprised to discover the broad scope of gameplay styles, themes and topics on offer. Take the videogame arm of Warner Bros. for example – they publish everything from puzzle games for young children through to gritty role-playing games for adults. Considering this scope, it is impossible to say that videogames conclusively have a positive or negative impact on children. It all depends on the type of game being played. Choose games with content and gameplay designed specifically for children (the ratings system is helpful in this area), as this is first step to ensuring that your child has a positive experience with gaming.
Builds Problem Solving and Creativity Skills
Many games for children feature gameplay specifically designed to increase problem solving and creativity skills. If you watch your child play a game, you will see that they’re required to investigate, plan, negotiate and explore in order to progress through the game. They’ll have to solve puzzles and discover solutions that are outside the initial, expected outcome. Popular games like Minecraft have children in charge of their own environment. They explore their surroundings, manipulate the environment, and investigate relationships between elements in order to succeed in the game. Game designers specifically include these elements to help develop children’s creativity and their ability to develop and test strategies, make decisions and determine cause and effect.
Gaming Can Build Social Skills
The act of playing videogames with friends can help children build their social skills. When groups get together to play videogames, there are often not enough controllers to go around. The gamers must establish their own rules and guidelines in order for everyone to have a turn. Researchers have found that the need to manage these rules and any associated conflicts develops social skills in children and teens. They also found that teens who play games in groups feel that they have a better handle on social skills such as persuasion, motivating others and mediating disputes.
Videogames Can Actually Encourage Exercise
Research has shown that introducing boys to realistic sports videogames is likely to increase the amount of time those boys spend playing outside. The studies have found that the videogames act as instructional guides. As the boys experience new skateboarding tricks or football plays in their game, they are actually inspired to get out and try the new moves for themselves in real life. If you want your child to get more interested in the outdoors and sports, a realistic sports game might be just what you need.
The best way to understand the affects of videogames on your child is to get in there and play with them. You’ll be able to see just what they’re doing and just how it affects them. You might also have a bit of fun – nine out of ten parents who play videogames with their kids report that they enjoy it as much as their child does!
What sort of games does your child play? Have you noticed whether these games have had an impact on their development? Share your insights in the comments section below.