Console gaming is one of the most popular things for kids to do, and thanks to the rich storytelling and challenging puzzles in many of the games that exist for consoles like the PS4, Xbox One and Wii U, they are actually a lot more educational than they may look at first glance. Here are just some of the educational, social and skill based benefits children are getting while at the same time having fun, when they sit down at their consoles.
The games you remember from your youth were pretty low on reading, especially given the plot of most of them was ‘a plumber wants some cake’ or ‘a blue hedgehog collects rings’. While games like those classics are still good for other reasons, many of the games kids play now actually have a lot of dialog and story, and much of this is subtitled on the screen. Roleplaying games, for example, often require players to talk to other characters by choosing from a selection of written speech options, and while these are more suited to older kids who are already confident readers, it can have the same vocabulary boosting and contextual awareness benefits as reading a book in many cases – the stories really are now that deep and told largely through conversation in game.
You may think that any math is basically done for you when you play a video game, but actually, while that is the case when it comes to complicated things like how much damage a character takes in a given combat scenario or how much of a bonus you get to your probability of getting a critical hit if you hold a certain combination of magical thingies, there is actually a lot of math involved almost subconsciously in things like working out a strategy for carrying inventory in games. Also, some games require some time based mental arithmetic to allow you to work out what you need to do in order to build something or buy something in-game.
It may not seem like your child is doing anything creative when they are sat in front of a screen pressing buttons, but with some of the most popular games, that is what it is all about. Minecraft is one of the most popular video games in history, and yet it has no real story or combat in it at all – it is about mining materials and then using them to build whatever you want! You can then join Minecraft servers with other people on and explore and compare the things you have made. This is like crafting at home, but on a much grander scale and without the mess!
Us older people may wonder why kids don’t just talk to their friends normally like we did rather than speaking to them through technology all the time, but that’s something we’ll just have to get over because these days, social communication is about far more than face to face or telephone interactions – it is about being able to present yourself the way you want to with both people you know, and people who are new to you. Online gaming is a way for kids to actually connect with their friends and do something together that they all enjoy, even when it might be too late for them to meet up and play, or when they live far apart. To add to that though, cooperating with people they don’t know in online games can teach them a lot about working with different people, and making new friends.
Hand eye coordination is something that even the very earliest games were able to help kids improve, and with the reaction speeds of modern consoles, they can learn more than just the muscle memory to boing through the first level of Sonic the Hedgehog without thinking! Some styles of game require perfect timing, catlike reflexes, and the ability to think fast to win, and this is something your kids are honing every time they play. By the very fact they get better each time they play, they are also learning a valuable lesson about perseverance and practice! Whether they are seeking out the last all important achievement to have completed their game 100%, or trying to beat their best friend for the first time, they are learning and improving.
Understanding that console games are more than mindless activities can really help you choose the right games for your children to boost the learning potential of the activity.