Many parents are concerned that video games may desensitize their children to violence and, consequently, negatively affect their emotional development. While it is true that some games contain violent elements, this perspective does not encompass the entire situation. The complete vision depends on several factors, such as game design, the narrative, and the way children experience and play these video games. In fact, these games can help developing empathy towards others and respect for each individual’s differences.
The Importance of Developing Empathy
The development of empathy is essential in the ability to feel and identify other people’s emotions. This ability goes beyond simply perceiving emotional signals. It also involves the ability to imagine what another person is thinking and feeling, which is known as the theory of mind. As individuals grow and mature, their empathy sharpens, allowing them to emotionally connect with others more deeply. Empathy and theory of mind are crucial tools for effective communication, interpersonal support, and building strong, healthy relationships. Empathy reduces cases of prejudice, harassment, racism and inequality. This type of emotional competence is invaluable for children as they grow and learn to cultivate interpersonal skills, maintain healthy relationships, and begin to establish a personal identity and sense of self.
The Importance of Developing Respect
The development of respect is a fundamental pillar for the construction and maintenance of social peace in any society. Respect for others, their opinions, beliefs, and rights is essential to foster a harmonious and fair coexistence. When people learn from an early age to respect cultural, ethnic, and religious differences, it creates an environment in which everyone feels valued and accepted. This mutual respect forms the basis for peaceful conflict resolution, as dialogue and understanding are promoted instead of confrontation and violence. Respect also helps reduce discrimination and social exclusion, allowing people of diverse backgrounds to coexist in harmony. Additionally, it encourages collaboration and cooperation instead of destructive competition. Respect is a crucial element for building more cohesive, fair communities and, consequently, for lasting social peace.
Video Games that Develop Empathy and Respect
So now that we’ve established that developing empathy and respect through video games is important, how are these skills actually associated with video games? Here we see some types of video games that can promote these skills:
Educational Games: Some educational games focus on social topics, such as history or culture, and can promote empathy by teaching players about different cultures and historical periods or events. At Kidmons, there are various educational games that help promote these skills. Puzzle video games, for example, challenge players’ creativity and problem-solving skills in the brain. Additionally, by working as a team, we can practice collaborative problem solving, and players can understand others’ perspectives and abilities, nurturing empathy and respect for individual differences. Nonviolent conflict resolution is a recurring theme in these games, teaching players to seek peaceful solutions. In short, puzzle video games are not only entertaining, but they can also be powerful tools for forging essential values of empathy and respect for those who play them. Try Labyrinth Adventures or Puzzle 4 Kids.
Role-playing Games (RPGs): In RPGs, players take on the role of a character and make decisions that affect the story and characters of the game. According to a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis it is reported that role-playing games require the player to put themselves in another person’s shoes, which is also known as perspective taking. They must think about actions and make decisions that can have drastic consequences for both themselves and other characters. This encourages empathy by allowing players to see the world from their character’s perspective and understand the motivations and emotions of other characters.
Narrative Games: These games focus on the story and interaction between characters and often present ethical and moral dilemmas that cause players to reflect on their actions and the consequences they have on others.
Cooperative Games: Games that require cooperation between players, such as the famous “Minecraft”, can foster teamwork and empathy by requiring players to care about the needs and abilities of their teammates.
Social Simulation Games: Games like “The Sims” allow players to interact with virtual characters and make decisions that affect their lives. This can help develop social skills and empathy by simulating real-life situations. At Kidmons, we can take on the role of pet sitter at Kitten Pet Carer.
Problem-solving Games: These games put players in difficult situations where they must make ethical and moral decisions to survive. This can help players reflect on the consequences of their actions on other virtual characters and develop empathy.
It is important to remember that developing empathy and respect through video games also depends on how they are played and how they are integrated into a person’s life. Parents and caregivers can play a crucial role in guiding young players and encouraging discussion about the ethical and social issues present in games.
Therefore, while some video games may be better suited than others for fostering empathy and emotional intelligence, games in general, should not be overlooked as an effective tool to help teach children tolerance, acceptance of differences, and consideration for different perspectives. We can affirm that it is possible to develop empathy and respect through video games.