You may or may not have heard of some online games like Minecraft, Scratch, FIFA, GTA, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Pokemon Go and other popular online games. There’s two questions I get asked all the time.
- Is it bad for my child to game?
- What limits do you place on gaming?
Is my child learning while playing games online?The short answer is yes. The long answer needs to keep in mind what I said earlier, not all games are equal. Games that encourage problem-solving skills, communication and collaboration skills and reading/writing skills are ones that are meaningful and purposeful. When we think about Reading and writing skills – it’s no longer just the traditional skills of reading and writing. Various research from Learning Designer Jason Engerman (Ph.D) to Tech Entrepreneur and Edtech Pioneer Idit Harel (Ph.D) shows that online games (or gaming) can
- increase spatial knowledge
- improve aptitude for math and science
- improve physical dexterity with keyboards and touch-screens
- provide opportunities to learn through failure
- encourage risk-taking in a positive goal-oriented way
- encourage grit and perseverance
- value exploration & discovery
- help develop critical thinking and computational fluency
- provide opportunities to learn to collaborate & work together to accomplish a task
Advice from a “Gamer” Parent (aka me)From my own experiences as the parent of a teenage boy “gamer”, here’s my top tips
- Strive for Balance. We used to have a time-limit for Ben’s gaming but now that he’s older we know that he has an active life both online and offline. As parents, it’s also our job to guard against addictive behaviours in any of our life’s activities.
- Value the gaming that our kids are involved in. In this TEDTalk video, Ali Carr-Chellman highlights that valuing their gaming activities amounts to respecting them and their culture. Jane McGonigal believes that gaming can make the world a better place and that competitive, violent fantasy games contribute to the development of strong future leaders and citizens.
- Invest the time to sit down, watch AND play the game with your child(ren). A bonus part of this week’s free PDF is a link to a 20 minute video conversation with my amazing friend Tara and her equally amazing daughter Sojo – an avid minecrafter! This is a must-watch especially when Tara shares her thoughts and advice on being a parent of a “10 year-old gamer” and what she learned when she did this exact thing.
- Have regular, open and honest conversations with your child(ren). We always say it, and we’re saying it again. This is our key piece of advice for all parents. These conversations will help you to understand what is so appealing about certain games, what your child is learning and how, and will also help you to decide if a game is appropriate or not for your child.