The popularity of video games has continued to rise over the years and the technology for games has advanced to a level that makes it an affordable form of entertainment for people of all ages. There are literally thousands of games available for almost instant play at any time. Unfortunately the negative aspects of video games often get much more media exposure than the positive effects. Scientists and researchers are discovering that there is a lot of potential for video games to be used as an educational tool. Here are some of the positive educational opportunities that video games can offer children of all ages.
Video games teach problem solving
When playing a game, there are set goals and incentives. Although the problems might not be the same as in real life, the basic premise is. Unless you solve the problem, you won’t reach your goal. Also, the problem has to be solved in a way that is acceptable. This requires children to figure out and plan a strategy to reach their goals. Problem solving can lead to success in life.
Some simple games help children to relax and calm down. This is important because when children are upset they are not as open to learning and have a hard time paying attention to key concepts. Examples of simple games are the popular Angry Birds series or other games that can be played on even a smartphone.
Memory and concentration
Hidden object games have a lot of fans. They allow children to go on an exciting adventure with a great storyline while teaching concentration, memory skills and problem solving. Many games can be solved in as little as eight hours of game play, so they are great for those that are not into games that take weeks to conquer. Other games take longer and novice gamers can work their way up to longer ames.
Overcomes learning obstacles
No child is impossible to teach. Children learn differently. That is why some conventional methods of teaching do not lead to academic success. A one-size-fits-all approach results in some children being left behind. This can lead to a myriad of problems that can impact their success as adults. Video game learning can reach children who are having a hard time learning via books and tests. When learning is fun, children are not as resistant to it. Video games can also build skills that make learning via traditional methods less cumbersome and boring to the child.
Makes history and other cultures more accessible
While taking your children to another country might be cost prohibitive, teaching them about other cultures and history through video games is easy and inexpensive. There are many history-based games such as Civilization and, for older kids and teens, even games like Rome: Total War or the Age of Empires series. Children pick up on historical facts by listening to the narration and exploring through the game. There are countless games out there that pick a book or historical event and base the entire game on that. When history seems vivid and exciting, children and young adults retain facts and timelines more easily.
Video games can help kids make friends
Kids getting together to play video games fosters friendships through a shared hobby. If the game has educational aspects then you are fostering an environment of competitive learning. Even if children and teens live far apart, they can still communicate and play games together via the Internet. Headsets allow them to talk to each other easily as well. Kids who have trouble making friends can actually become more social through video games than they otherwise would be, despite the stereotype of gamers being socially isolated and awkward individuals. Bobby Kotick, of Activision Blizzard, is famous for making the popular Warcraft game franchise as popular as it is. The Warcraft series is played in real-time all over the world and has created many friendships.
Helps children explore and learn job skills
There are many games that can help children and teens explore different occupations. Games such as Surgery Simulator and Farm Simulator are extremely popular, often outselling even top action games. While these games cannot match real-life experience they can get kids thinking about their future and considering what they would like to do while gaining some of the knowledge and skills they need to make a successful career as adults.
Video games teach team building and empathy
There are a lot of multiplayer games out there that force gamers to work as a team. At the same time, many story lines in games involve helping others achieve a goal or make their lives better. Kotick took the connection between empathy and video games one step further by creating the Call of Duty Endowment, which is a non-profit that assists soldiers returning home find jobs in the civilian sector and make an easier transition when coming home from overseas.
Maintaining a balance
While video games can be a valuable educational tool, if used too much they can have some negative effects. The same can be said for almost anything that is used daily. Drinking too much water can be harmful as well but you don’t see that being broadcast in the media. Parents can help children use video games in a healthy way by limiting game play and influencing what games are played at certain ages.
One of Kotick’s latest contributions to the gaming world is unique parental controls that allow parents to limit and control game time with ease. Lashing out at a child or teen for a specific game often just causes contention. Providing them with another game or another stimulating activity can help them not take game play too far. Sometimes if a child or teen becomes obsessive about a game it is because they don’t have enough going on in other areas of their life.