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Top Five On Friday: Top 5 Reasons You Should Let Your Kids Play Video Games

May 14, 2010

So, I’m a gamer and a mom, and I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that I let my kids play video games. Contrary to what a lot of parents assume, my kids actually play fewer games than most of their friends and have a lot more restrictions on what they’re allowed to play. Because I am familiar with most of the popular titles, I am better able to select what’s appropriate for them and don’t just assume all games are “toys” and ok for kids… I could say a lot more on that subject, but that’s a post for another time ;)

Maybe you wonder if your kids are spending too much time playing video games, or if you’re doing something wrong but letting them “veg out” in front of the screen. Personally, I would prefer my kids select gaming for their screen time (1-4 hours per week-end, none during the week, if you’re wondering) than TV or movies; let me tell you why:

Top 5 Reasons You Should Let Your Kids Play Video Games:

1:  Literacy and Numeracy Skills This is particularly true of “edutainment” type games, but really all games require a certain amount of reading, and many present math and logic challenges.  If you want to actively build a particular skill set, there are games that will help specifically with math, or spanish, or what have you, but most genres offer some degree of reading and reasoning [certainly more than television or movies].

2:  Teamwork Kids can play together locally or online (following internet safety precautions, of course!), and there are a number of great games out there that encourage cooperative play. My 10 and 8 year olds are big fans of the LEGO series of games, which are all designed for two player cooperative play. The kids need to work together to solve problems and meet objectives, plan strategies and share rewards.

3:  Building Self Esteem Video games are great tools for building self esteem, as they provide immediate feedback for a job well done and allow the child to feel a measure of success they don’t always have at school or in social situations. This is a particular bonus for kids who are loners or have learning challenges. Games provide a clear objective and reward for accomplishing it, which makes kids feel great.

4:  Social Skills This is one you probably didn’t expect, but there is research that shows teens who play video games play with others more often than not, and that 85% percent of the time they rate other player’s behaviour as “generous and helpful”.  There is a lot of pro-social behaviour in the online gaming world and kids have the opportunity both to “meet” people from all over the world (again, you need to take safety precautions with online interactions) and to “hang out” online with their real world friends.

5:  Fun Video games are fun, that’s why kids like them, and there’s nothing wrong with that!  I think the mainstream media has scared many parents into thinking games are bad or dangerous, when the truth is there are a lot of great games for kids out there.  There is nothing wrong with doing something just because you like it.  As long as you select games that are appropriate for your children’s age and ability, let them enjoy!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2010 12:48 am

    I definitely won’t be against my son playing video games when he is older. He’s only 18 months old and he already loves the Wii remote. *lol*

    Thank you for stopping by and making my SITS day so awesome! :)

    • May 16, 2010 8:25 am

      I agree that 18 mos is too young, I follow the recommendation of no tv for kids under 2 for my kids.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. May 23, 2010 2:07 pm

    Both my boys played and still do play video games. I just regulated the amount of time they could play. Everything in moderation is my motto. I emphasized being connected out in nature and hanging out with their friends more than being in the house playing video games. It paid off as adults they love being outside, camping and hiking, playing board games with family and friends and once in a while playing video games. Technology is not going anywhere. I think a lot of parents are afraid of the influence of technology on their children. I feel it’s all about balance and moderation. Moderating the amount of time spent playing, watching their behavior, and picking age appropriate games.

    • May 23, 2010 2:17 pm

      Thanks Carol, I absolutely agree with you. And my boys are both avid readers and love board games, as well as skateboarding, biking, etc. It’s all about balance. I think you’re right about parents feeling uncomfortable with technology. It’s surprising to me that some parents let their kids watch endless hours of tv, but are reluctant to let them play video games. I guess what is familiar feels safe to them, but personally if my kids are going to “veg out” for an hour, I’d rather them be engaged in a game than passively watch something. [They do occasionally watch movies too, and that’s ok, but it’s not my first choice for them].

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. July 12, 2010 4:55 pm

    Interesting point. I used to love playing video games. Well I still do, but I can’t really play them right now. My daughter is way too young to play right now, but I do agree that if you give them limits, it’s fine.

    My brain’s still functioning anyway.:)

  4. July 17, 2010 1:56 pm

    matt wants ava to learn video games and at first i was like “what?” but then he gave me the argument about hand/eye coordination and literacy and numeracy skills you mentioned. just like everything else, as long as there’s moderation there’s nothing wrong with it!!

    • July 17, 2010 2:04 pm

      When she’s old enough for some “screen time” there are great iPhone and iPad apps for little ones, or the Leap Pad brand of devices, and of course PC games. I get some good educational PC games for my 3.5 year old at the library. (Yay for free entertainment).

      I’m with you, in moderation is the key… and since my kids rarely watch tv, or have to choose between the two for their screen time, I’m not worried about their media consumption. Some people think nothing about the leaving the tv on for hours at a time, but get all riled up about video games. I’m the opposite, b/c tv is passive and in my view interactive media is more stimulating.

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