I am grateful I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s. I have vivid memories of Knight Rider, the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, MC Hammer, Kris Kross, and all things neon. But one of the best parts of living in those decades was the opportunity to experience the evolution of video games. When I was three, my family got one of the first home computers—a TI 99-4A—and I was hooked. I spent hours with friends around computers, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and the Sega Genesis.
Video games have obvious downsides we need to be aware of, but when used properly, they can do good as well. We have the responsibility as dads to teach our kids how to game responsibly. To help you with that, here are 5 of the benefits of video games.We have the responsibility as dads to teach our kids how to game responsibly.
Gaming is supposed to be fun. One of the benefits of video games is they allow you to unwind from the busyness of everyday life. Some people work with their hands, others do crossword puzzles, and many like to read books. But instead, some people like to do a few laps around the track in Mario Kart. If our kids use gaming systems to relax, we just need to teach them to do it in moderation.
Most video games require you to learn certain controls and patterns in order to be successful. When kids play NHL 20 or Super Smash Bros, the ability to learn and repeat these patterns at just the right moment is key to succeeding. One of the benefits of video games is that they help improve our kids’ reaction time and hand-eye coordination. Our kids can use these skills when playing sports, at school, or even while working.
Alongside games that require you to learn button or key patterns, numerous games challenge your brain. These games often involve puzzles one needs to resolve in order to make progress. Role-Playing Games (RPGs) or more well-known titles like Mario are built on this principle. By design, our kids will reach a point in a game where they feel stuck and are unsure of what to do. In a game, there is always a way out; it just takes creativity, perseverance, and sometimes somebody else’s help to find it. Learning this in games will teach our kids to do the same when facing difficult problems in real life.
I used to play a lot of Duck Hunt. In this game, you used a light zapper to shoot ducks in rounds that got progressively more difficult. The game featured a dog who would bring back your ducks and would laugh at you if you missed. That laugh drove me crazy but points to one of the important benefits of video games: resiliency. A lot of games are designed to offer players instant gratification. Others present difficult puzzles or challenges to overcome. For every one of our kids, there are going to be days and situations that do not go as planned. When our kids learn that there’s always another game, another level, and another opportunity to try again, they develop resiliency.
In my opinion, one of the greatest benefits of video games is playing along with some friends. A couple times a year, I still like to have a friend or two over to dive into the challenges of a game we haven’t beaten. There are titles designed for cooperative and competitive gameplay for every video game system. Finding these, playing them with our kids, and watching our kids play them with others provides many opportunities to laugh together, to problem-solve together, and to bond with friends.
Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: Using Video Games to Your Advantage.
Sound off: What do you see as some of the benefits of video games for your kids?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is your favorite game to play?”