We already know that the behavior and mind of children develop better through play, but can this also include video games?
Today’s kids are extremely tech-savvy and they learn how to use a touchscreen device even before they can walk or speak properly. We also have a plethora of video games for each stage of childhood, and child development is a big selling point.
But are video games truly effective when it comes to transferring skills and cognitive traits in the real world? Are games like Portal (where kids can learn about physics) or Call of Duty (hand-eye coordination development and more) really a learning tool?
This question has been asked by many scientists, and as it turns out when used properly, video games can impact the way we see the world and the skills we develop (as both kids and adults). Let’s have a look at the connection between the virtual world we allow our kids to discover and their development.
Video Games & Skill Development
The idea of mixing games and education is not new. In fact, we already have a term coined for this (gamification) and the techniques can be (and are) applied in schools, companies, and all sorts of other organizations across the world.
Through gamification, educators use the game elements that make us progress and enjoy the activity of playing. As such, each big project is divided into small tasks (or quests) and for each task solved, players receive rewards (points, small gifts, experience, and so on).
So, when you reach the final stage of the learning experience, the people involved are more motivated to use the skills they acquired because they enjoyed the experience.
Now, if we can use game elements to improve learning, we can also find games that can be educational and interesting at the same time. For instance, some of the games here are light, colorful, and fun, focusing on creativity and ingenuity.
These games are ideal for a developing child who reacts to vivid colors and can even learn how to speak or count by simply observing the game.
But, as we all know, games are not just for small kids. So, as the young ones grow, they’ll have access to more advanced games that will teach them skills such as:
- Patience and perseverance – games are not always easy; in fact, some of the best games put us through a few hoops before allowing us access to the prize. But this also teaches kids that life is not always easy and there are times when you have to grind your way through the other side.
- Dealing with challenges – how would you feel about playing the World’s Hardest Game? Some may be thrilled by the title as it promises unique challenges, but the game is great for teaching kids about difficulties and how to overcome them.
- Strategic planning – this is a crucial skill in life, and kids have the chance to acquire it by playing a wide array of game genres. Starting with puzzle games (Plants vs. Zombies, for instance) and ending with shooter and battle games (PUBG or Fortnite), kids are taught about the value of thinking ahead and interpreting the moves of your enemy.
- Socialization and leadership – some parents worry that kids nowadays don’t go out and interact with other kids. But this is not true! Multiplayer online games are the new playground and children learn about socialization and leadership by being part of multinational teams and leading their friends to victory.
The clear answer to our question is that, yes, games can be a useful learning tool. True, it needs to be wielded with care and responsibility, but this is our job, as parents and adults.