Can Digital Game Play be Good for Kids?
There is no doubt that when onlookers see a small child playing a digital game on their parent’s phone or tablet, they form a quick — and often judgmental — opinion on what is happening on the screen.
What is typically viewed as a distraction, or a fun waste of time, is often a digital game that can teach kids valuable skills.
And with moderation and supervision, digital games could become a positive influence in any kid’s life.
Focusing on the Benefits of Digital Game Play for Kids
Age-appropriate digital games offer kids a range of benefits, including one of life’s most important lessons: Helping them develop their sense of self.
Digital games give small children the power of movement and autonomy, which helps boost their self-esteem.
What is more, digital games teach kids valuable life skills including problem solving, how to make and take ownership of choices, and how to control their own goals and the behaviors necessary to reach them.
When children play multi-player games together, or with their parents, it provides important lessons in conflict resolution and empathy, as they share ownership of their combined decisions.
The interactive aspect of some games can also be beneficial for kids who struggle with face-to-face social interactions.
When kids are anxious in real-world social settings, age-appropriate digital games can help them learn to share, communicate, and problem solve with others — even when they are just characters.
What Does the Research Say About the Benefits Kids Gain from Digital Gaming?
Recent studies that surveyed parents and teachers of over 3,000 pre- and early school-aged kids found that children who played digital games for five or more hours a week were likely to have better intellectual functioning and academic achievement and fewer problems with their peers.
The same study also failed to find a negative connection between playing digital games and mental health concerns.
Digital Games Should Be Used as a Supplemental Tool for Learning
While digital games have the potential to be a positive influence in any kid’s life, they should not fully displace other activities that encourage healthy growth. That includes physical activity, outdoor time, pretend play, and the sleep, grooming, and eating lessons they need to become well-rounded toddlers.
Once parents familiarize themselves with the parental and privacy controls associated with digital games, kids should be free to explore the educational benefits and use their screen time valuably.