Video games are a big trend amongst children. Most of our kids love them and want to spend time playing them. As parents, that might be a little concerning and we might even associate it with negative behaviors or bad school performance. Some might even say that bad school performance is directly related to kids spending too much time on video games. Well, we beg to differ. So, is it bad that your children are good at video games? We answer, NO. and here is why.
Before we tell you why we think that being good at video games is a good sign, we want to assure you that many of our experts agree with that. Dr. Kimberly Berens, the author of Bling Spots and the founder of fitlearners.com supports this. She believes that video games can be used as a motivational tool to enhance not only school performance, but also your child’s behavior at home.
School performance and video games
Let us start off by explaining certain aspects of video games. First of all, most video games use steps and practice as a teaching technique. When starting any video game, you will find that at the beginning there is a tutorial stage. This stage teaches the player, in this case your child, how to do things. It teaches them how to do stunts, how to make the character walk, jump, drive, and all of the needed controls to play the game. Players cannot proceed to the next stage without finishing the tutorial and excelling at it.
In addition, most video games are made of chapters and levels. The player cannot go to the next level without succeeding the one before. This concept of moving from one stage to the next is usually left out by the traditional schooling system. For example, students move up classes by passing exams. This does not mean that they have mastered the required skill set like doing math or writing. While students can master these skills while moving forward, video games ensure that they master the game’s skills immediately. It gives the player unlimited chances to keep playing the level over and over until they master it and then move on to the next.
This can develop a positive sense or learning for your child. Without realizing so, they will use this gradual learning process in their daily lives and in their school work. And that is why we believe that video games can indeed contribute to enhancing school performance.
Video games can improve a lot of skills
As we mentioned before, video games do target a large skill set and help the player develop it step by step. For example, detective games teach children how to think outside the box. It indirectly improves their logical and critical thinking along with their ability to solve problems.
Other video games target physical skills. Many parents think that playing video games means that children will be on the coach for hours without moving. And while this is true for some cases, other games require moving and standing up. For instance, the Wii console offers games that cannot be played while sitting down.
The Nintendo Wii
Many gamers use the Wii console to spend time playing video games while also staying fit. It is a fantastic way to have hours of endless fun while also getting your body moving. One of those games is the Wii Sports Bundle. It includes bowling games, goling, tennis, baseball, and boxing. Not only is it super fun, but this sports game teaches the actual techniques of the sports it features. Boxing, for example, requires the player to put in an effort to defeat the opponent which is challenging, energizing, and fun!
It also features more games that little girls will be interested in as well. Such as Just Dance and Guitar Hero. You can use those games to bond with your and make a day out of it.
Being good at video games is a good sign
According to Dr. Berens, if your child can learn to play video games, then he can learn everything else. There are many cases where parents believe that their children have learning disabilities and they go for specialists to solve that. The first question Dr. Berens asks parents: “Does your child play video games?”. If the answer is yes, then it is not a case of learning disabilities but rather lack of motivation. It is not their fault nor is it the teacher’s fault. The traditional schooling and teaching system is just not up to date on that.
If your child can master a video game, then he can do the same with school subjects. The problem is, unlike schools, video games offer many stages of teaching, practicing, setting goals, going through missions and finally rewarding. When your children do well at school or pass an exam they are not usually rewarded the same. Passing exams and doing homework is rather treated as some that they are supposed to do. Reinforcements are not usually provided. The whole situation is treated by punishing students who do not do the work, and not rewarding those who do. Which is not very encouraging.
What can you do?
If the schooling system lacks the proper rewarding ideology, then we believe that it is your job to provide it. When you take this up, you will give your child a motivation to do better.
How to use video games to motivate your child?
When you have children who love playing video games, you can use that as a tool to motivate them to do their school work. An example of this, is that you can make a race out of it. Agree with your kids that whoever finishes their homework first, gets to play first.
Save bigger rewards for bigger achievements. Like passing exams. Again, make a race out of it with your kids. Make a deal with them that whoever gets the higher scores gets more screen time or a new game of their choice. Trust us, this will make them work harder in school and you will see amazing results at the end.
Also, use it as a punishment. If your son does not do his homework, take away his screen time. This will make them never miss homework or not study for an exam.
How can video games make your home happier?
Not only can video games enhance school performance and improve it, but they can also make your home happier. You can apply the same reinforcement method to home chores. First of all, Dr. Berens encourages parents to know the difference between what their children cannot do and what they won’t do. If children cannot do something, give them a chance to learn. Acknowledge their skill level and help them develop this skill set. On the other hand, if they won’t do their chores, just like they won’t do their homework, then you are dealing with a behavioral issue.
How to solve bad behavior?
It is pretty easy. Start off by emphasizing that laziness or sloppiness will not be accepted. We recommend you have a family sit down and talk about this clearly. Then, have a conversation about rights, responsibilities, and privilege. Children sometimes miss the difference between these three concepts. Explaining that and helping them understand will foster their participation in home chores.
Highlight that they should earn their chance to play video games, and that you will not give it freely. To do this properly, we recommend that you help your children earn their screen time. You can do that through assigning chores and making a follow up board. For example, your son was responsible for taking out the trash. When he does it, put a star next to his name on the board. This kind of reinforcement motivates children and helps you maintain a happy home.
We still acknowledge that negatives of long screen time
We still believe that unlimited screen time is not good for children. While it can help them in so many ways, it also can lead to video games addiction, and we do not want that. That is why all the steps we mentioned before are for screen time, not just extra screen time. Also, you can protect your child from the negative effects of screen time and video games though censoring them, providing UV light protection, and limiting screen time.
Finally, for any learning process to succeed, you must introduce the idea of reward and punishment. Do not let good behaviors go unrewarded. You can always try to reach out to your children’s school in order to discuss those reinforcement and apply them within the classroom as well as your home.