Research Shows Games are Essential for Healthy Early Childhood Development
Play is one of the most important aspects of a child’s life by helping them think creatively and interact socially.
Whether it is a game of tag during a play date at the park, or age-appropriate digital games, play time helps kids reduce stress and develop emotionally.
It also helps children grow into healthy and independent individuals.
Here is what research tells us about games and how they help facilitate learning.
What the Experts Say About Kids and Digital Play Time
Gameplay, whether it is digital or in-person, is “How children learn,” according to
Dr. Tiff Jumaily, a pediatrician at Integrative Pediatrics and Medicine Studio City in Los Angeles.
The National Library of Medicine released a study stating, “On the whole, play is associated with responses that facilitate learning… [and] work off stress.”
A licensed psychotherapist and program coordinator at Providence Saint John’s Child and Family Development Center, Mayra Mendez, PhD, LMFT, describes gameplay as “Important because it provides a primary foundation for learning, exploring, problem-solving, and building an understanding of the world and their role within it.”
While the benefits of gameplay are innumerable — including providing an outlet for creativity and experimentation — it also helps them learn how to interact and communicate with others.
Here are just some of the ways children develop cognitively, physically, socially, and emotionally when playing digital games.
What are the Cognitive, Physical, Social & Emotional Benefits of Digital Games?
When parents encourage their children to play age-appropriate games, they help promote cognitive learning.
That includes the healthy development of critical thinking skills.
It also reinforces memory, helps children understand cause and effect, and how to explore the world — and, more importantly, their role in it.
Digital gameplay also helps children conceptualize, brainstorm, and exercise critical thinking skills.
While parents rarely consider the physical benefits of digital gameplay, they exist in important ways.
Gameplay encourages the understanding of spatial relations, promotes motor planning skills, and supports the balance between the two.
Socially, digital gameplay helps children learn how to interact with others and provides an overall understanding of social expectations and rules that are outlined within the app or online platform.
Emotionally, digital gameplay helps children understand and process what they are feeling.
When children play age-appropriate digital games, it helps build confidence and encourages the development of their identity and self-esteem as they work through the challenges the game presents. When they develop winning solutions, they are rewarded by the game itself and with praise from parents.
When they are faced with a loss, and must start the game or level again, they learn to process sadness, anger, and grief.
When kids do not have the chance to stretch their imagination and build the skills they need to succeed, their cognitive, physical, emotional, and social development may be stunted.
Dr. Jumaily adds, “Gameplay is not frivolous… it is brain building and pivotal to your child’s development.”