Why Should Parents Let their Kids Play Video Games?
Playing video games can help children in several ways. Prensky (2004) reveals that children who regularly play video games easily interact and connect with the society compared to those who do not. However, some parents and other critics argue that children do not derive anything from playing video games. They believe that children learn nothing beyond hand and mind coordination from playing video games. In brief, the opponents of video games assert that while children may learn everything about video games, they never learn any life virtues or anything that can help them in their future. From my point of view, all these assertions are wrong. According to Kaplan (2014), whenever a child plays a video game, learning occurs simultaneously regardless of whether the child is aware of it or not. Educators, parents and the critics universally underestimate the powerful lessons and the huge amount of benefits that come from video games. While the content of video games can be adjusted to match the teaching and social goals, learning still occurs even with the prevailing entertaining content. This essay examines the useful lessons that children learn from playing video games for a long time. It outlines learning outcomes of video games among children. Moreover, the paper highlights the few misconceptions and counter-arguments held about playing video games. It concludes with making recommendations to the parents and school administrators to ensure that children derive maximum benefits from playing video games.
According to Kafai and Burke (2016), the most obvious lesson that children can learn as they play video games is how to cope with tasks. The necessity to respond to gradual or quick moves in the game and how the characters and objects operate in an artificial world teach children to perform various tasks, such as dragging tiles to build a virtual part or city with accuracy. Children learn how to fight and protect themselves from potential harm. Moreover, from the physical and mental manipulations in video games, children learn how to train animals and make them evolve. Another unconscious lesson that children learn comes from being in control of everything that happens on the computer screen and thus get accustomed being attentive to smalldetails. Moreover, being in control of the mouse and the screen enhances creativity and equips children with problem-solving skills. Unlike watching TV, where hand-eye coordination is not a factor, playing video games teaches children how to analyze situations before acting in order to move to the next step. Such scenarios in video games trigger children’s creativity and critical thinking.
Kaplan (2014) argues that most often video games simulate real-life events. Thus, the more children learn about such video games, the more they learn about basic skills that help them perform real world tasks. Children not only learn the procedure to perform a particular task, but they also practice until they internalize the skill. Studies show that children playing video games quickly learn to process parallel information. Playing video games enhances other real-life skills such as multi-tasking because in some games it is a requirement to proceed to the next level. They also learn to take information from various sources simultaneously such as from a rear view, overall view or from a side mirror while driving a virtual car. In the end, children learn to integrate the various perspectives into a single wider view. Overall, children learn how to use and manage a huge database of information, which is a crucial life virtue.
Another significant lesson that children can gain from playing video games is an understanding of what is possible and what they cannot do. Through playing, children learn the rules of the game and the consequences of violating them (Hall, Quinn & Gollnick, 2014). This aspect of the video games enhances the child’s curiosity, thought, and inductive skills, all of which are prerequisites in the scientific and other discoveries happening today. Moreover, children can typically change the rules using the easily traceable codes commonly referred to as cheat codes. The cheat codes alter the rules of the game by giving the game characters additional powers, lives, or weapons. This aspect of the game teaches children that rules are not always fixed and they can change them. This is a big life lesson especially in the world of business where managers have to regularly change the rules of the game to outsmart their rivals. Moreover, because of playing a wide variety of games, children can compare the rules and identify those with inaccurate or unfair ones. Regardless of the age, video games teach children to subconsciously reflect and compare the rules of a game to what they know in the real world.
Video games also teach children how to form strategies to win in different situations. Children learn that at times they need to be aggressive when attacking the opponent, while at other times they have to attack stealthily. They also learn that in some instances they need to be selfish but at other times they must cooperate to succeed. According to Sweetland and Stolberg (2015), the complicated moves are more successful than the simple ones and weak points become significant when combined together. Strategies such as keeping on guard and not attacking unless the player has the required force are crucial to win many games. Moreover, children learn strategies such as reserving some players for defense purposes if the game gets tough. In the modern gaming networked and multiplayer games are rapidly replacing single-player video games. Multiplayer video games teach children to deal with a large number of people and interact in a particular social environment, which is a crucial life lesson.
Video games also contribute to environmental and cultural education. They teach how to cope with different situations and how to cooperate in the conditions of cultural relativity. Most gaming environments are constructed in such a way that even though it is difficult to defeat enemies at first it becomes easy through perseverance and regular practice. Most video games are a reflection of the interests of society as a whole, although some are violent. Children gradually learn to identify with the villains and heroes in a game (Fromme & Unger, 2012). As they grow up they aspire to reenact the experience of success in gaming to achieve the status of those villains and heroes in real life. They grow up with courage and a desire to explore ways of acquiring unique qualities in life. Innovations in modern video games such as sound, graphics, vibration and other aids to immersion have made video games more engaging to children. This kind of digital immersion teaches children a nearly unlimited number of lessons.
Moreover, video games teach children to make moral decisions such as determining whether a particular act is right or wrong. The ability to determine the morality of a decision enables a child to win the game. The ability to make decisions originates from the images, music, sound, and other emotion-based situations (Rigby & Ryan, 2011). Children learn to make the right decisions from the consequences and punishments from the video games. Much of the appeal of video games is based on safety, although opponents of gaming believe that there must be negative consequences to the negative acts performed in the games. Video games can be turned to pure life lessons because that is their ultimate purpose. Arguably, there are always children who will never adhere to instructions from parents or from the society at large, but by playing video games they derive powerful life lessons that transform their lives.
Rogers (2016) notes that the video games distract children from focusing on meaningful activities like studies. He also believes that video games make children extremely lazy and prevent them from participating in other physical activities that are critical for healthy growth. He observes that the perpetrators of major crimes in the community played video games at some point in their lives. Several studies have also established that young adults prone to aggressive acts preferred playing violent video games during their childhood. According to Rogers (2016), the violent episodes in video games influence children to become aggressive and violent in the future. Other studies suggest that children are overwhelmed by video games and as result become extremely lazy. Others suggest that allowing children to spend all their time playing video games results into addiction. As the old adage asserts, too much of everything is never good for one’s health. Some young adults have been found to experience difficulties trying to avoid playing video games. However, the benefits that children derive from playing video games far outweigh the negatives. Therefore, the benefits of video games to children should not be underestimated.
In conclusion, there is no point in parents worrying that their children are spending too much of their time playing video games. Instead, they should be happy that their children are playing because the number of lessons they learn is incredible. What parents need to be concerned about is the lessons they learn in the classroom, which is certainly not the fault of the children. Children consciously or unconsciously want to learn and as a result are attracted to places where learning takes place such as video game dens. As the world moves further into the digital era, parents need to encourage their children to acquaint themselves with computers through activities such as playing video games, because when they enter the academic world computers will inevitably play a major role in learning process. Modern children learn more from video games and other programmed games than they do in the classroom. Parents should consider investing their energy and resources towards buying or creating video games that contain curricular aspects to ensure that they learn still more valuable lessons. In the long run encouraging kids to play video games is an excellent way to ensure that children learn even without even realizing it.
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Fromme, J. & Unger, A. (2012). Computer games and new media cultures: A handbook of digital games studies. Dordrecht: Springer.
Hall, G. E., Quinn, L. F. & Gollnick, D. M. (2014). Introduction to teaching: Making a difference in student learning. Washington, DC: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Kafai, Y. B. & Burke, Q. (2016). Connected gaming: What making video games can teach us about learning and literacy. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Kaplan, A. (2014). The brain-boosting benefits of gaming. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications Company.
Prensky, M. (2004). What do kids learn that’s positive from playing video Games? Surrey, B.C: Simon Fraser University, Surrey Campus Library.
Rigby, S. & Ryan, R. M. (2011). Glued to games: How video games draw us in and hold us spellbound. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.
Rogers, R. (2016). How video games impact players: The pitfalls and benefits of a gaming society. Lanham: Lexington Books.
Sweetland, D. & Stolberg, R. A. (2015). Teaching kids to think: Raising confident, independent, and thoughtful children in the age of instant gratification. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, Inc.