The warnings about letting your children become video and digital gamers can be overwhelming.
The list of risks is a litany of parental fears – addiction, social withdrawal and isolation; stunting in the development of empathy and numbness in the face of violence; disinterest in healthy enjoyments such as playing with a variety of toys, reading books and physical activities.
In response to the pervasive fearmongering, some parents ban gaming outright, others uneasily make it possible but keep fretting about whether they’ve done the right thing.
Gaming has been around long enough for there to be a substantial research that points to an array of benefits and debunks many of the common myths about the negative impacts on children and youth.
Rachelle Best, CEO and Founder of FYI play it safe, an AI-powered monitoring app used by families across the world to keep kids safer online, says: “As with anything in life, gaming is all about balance and how you manage this possible form of skills-building entertainment. Age-appropriate gaming for children can also be a way of making social connections rather than fostering isolation. Parents setting and enforcing sensible ground rules for safe, family-centred gaming can ensure that their child can get the best out of it.”
Some of the important benefits of gaming include:
There are many studies that show that gamers may experience an array of cognitive boosts when it comes to developing visual-spatial skills, logical thinking skills, problem-solving capacities and eye-hand co-ordination. US Researcher and author of Free to Learn, Dr Peter Gray, unpacks a range of this research on cognitive impacts in three articles published by Psychology Today, which you can find linked here.
Improved basic mental processes
Gamers shine when it comes to attention, memory, perception and decision-making thanks to video games that require them to make rapid decisions, move fast, keep track of multiple of things and retain a lot of information at once.
The gaming world is undeniably social. It is estimated that there are more than 3.2 billion gamers in the world. Multi-player games are amongst the most popular. For some kids, gaming opens up to them a community where they can feel like they really belong. It may give them an opener to make in-person friends with other gamers at their school or in their neighbourhood, as well as give them the opportunity to enjoy supportive online connections. Instead of being a solitary activity for your child, you can consider gaming together as family. This helps parents keep track of the games your child plays, who they interact with online and the time they spend gaming.
The feel-good factor
Gaming is fun; it can enable the release of endorphins and promote physical and mental relaxation. The key here is gaming in moderation and that there’s a balance with other off-screen activities.
Our kids are growing up in a world with a significant and ever-expanding digital realm. They will make their living one day in an even more digital-driven world. Gaming technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality are already being incorporated in many other aspects of life and commerce. Gaming elements are also increasingly being used in both school and tertiary educational curricula. Children who game are getting a particular and valuable experience as digital citizens.