Playing videogames has become one of the main types of leisure activities among children nowadays. Although we often speak about the risks involved when people spend long periods of time playing videogames, some people and there is also research that supports the positive role of videogames for child development. This includes for the development of their education, social skills, personal identity formation and much more.
Firstly, it is worth noting that videogames can help children to develop several important skills that they will use throughout their lives. For example, in many videogames it is necessary to think fast and to solve problems, something that will help them to develop their logic skills, and their ability to face real situations where good judgement applies and where it is necessary to make quick decisions. Strategy games and war games, for example, often use these skills so they are a good way to start critically thinking from an early age.
Another important skill that we can develop through videogames is creativity. Just like problem solving, children must develop creative solutions. Furthermore, many games are also focussed on creative development through construction, for example Minecraft or The Sims, where children can design their own world. In most videogames, it is necessary to use our creativity to create characters and to imagine what is happening and this is a huge benefit for children in a world which places more value on people thinking outside the box.
Videogames can also be a way to relax and to enjoy our free time. We often underestimate the daily stress that children face, while they are still learning how to manage their emotions and to find emotional wellbeing, something that still proves difficult for many adults. Sitting in front of a screen for a few hours offers an opportunity to escape from stress and promotes relaxation, which is essential for all of us in day-to-day life.
Many believe that children are not learning if they spend their days playing videogames and that it will have a negative effect on their attainment at school. Although everything is better in moderation, we cannot discard games as a way of also improving education. In fact, there currently exist several games which have the main objective of improving maths and literacy skills. For example, the game Mat48 is a videogame aimed at very young children between 4 and 8 years old, to work on their addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills. If we correctly choose our child´s game, we can turn this leisure moment into something educational that will give them more motivation to study.
In fact, that is one of our objectives. To make sure that children make the most of the time they spend playing videogames. If we motivate them when they do things correctly, ask questions, let them explain to us what they are doing, as well as showing an interest in their hobby, children will develop a sense of pride about what they do, that can also be applied to other aspects of their life and a happy childhood. This is also a way to improve our relationship with children and to build confidence.
It is worth noting that using games to build confidence and improve friendships is another benefit. As we mentioned in another article, there are studies that outline that MMORPG´s are interactive games that allow us to form long term relationships and an opportunity to meet new people. All the qualities we develop in videogames, such as working together to achieve a common goal, are qualities which can be applied to real life. The opportunity to speak to new people from different countries also helps us to be more open and tolerant and these can become lifelong friendships.
Videogames are like any other type of play for children and it is important we do not forget the importance of play in developing child identity and personality. Having the opportunity to use their creativity, form relationships and to enjoy this time allows children to develop their own tastes and ways of interacting, which are often reflected in situations faced in real life. They can also be a way to motivate them to move and to do exercise, even if it is at home, with the huge quantity of games designed with this objective in mind. If we take Ring Fit Adventure for the Nintendo Switch as an example, this is a game that motivates players to do exercise whilst killing monsters and exploring different worlds.
What is clear in the use of games as a positive tool in child development is that it is the parents´ responsibility to ensure they take on this function. There can be cases where children spend hours playing repetitive videogames that do not bring any real benefit. However, if we ensure our children play interactive and educational games, we show an interest and we motivate them to be proud of their hobby, we can get the most benefit from this ever more popular pastime. It is important that we avoid videogames with a lot of violence that idolise criminals.