Approximately 67 percent of households in the United States play video games, according to the Entertainment Software Rating Board. While video games can be a distraction and a negative influence on your child, they can also have some redeeming qualities that contribute to your child’s development and help him learn important skills. Look for video games that are both fun and educational.
Thinking and Reasoning
Video games can improve your child’s critical thinking skills as she learns to solve problems and seek out varying solutions. According to a study at the Division of Psychology at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, action games were found to improve cognitive control after consistent play. Video games can also help your child build on the skills of spatial reasoning and navigation and improve her hand-eye coordination as she learns different controls. Additionally, KidsHealth.org states that video games can also help your child develop her problem-solving skills.
Playing video games with others, whether it’s in person or with an online multiplayer option, can help improve your child’s social skills. It can also help him learn collaboration with others, teamwork, and patience when working with others toward a common goal. A study published in the February 2010 issue of the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology" and conducted by researchers from the University of Sussex and Ludwig Maximilians University found that participants were more likely to help stop a harassment situation after playing a game that involved collaboration.
In addition to the things she can learn while playing the majority of video games, your child can learn from more focused games that offer repeated exposure to basic concepts. Some video games aim to teach grammar, vocabulary, history and math in an interesting way and are typically targeted at preschoolers and elementary-age children. A study published in the June 2004 issue of "Pediatrics" and conducted at the Wayne State University Pediatric Prevention Research Center found that playing computer-based video games before and during the preschool years is associated with cognitive development in young children. In fact, children in the study performed better in the area of school readiness.
Although video games can be beneficial for children, moderation is important. Set daily limits for your child to make sure he also has time for physical activity and other important things, such as homework. Make sure the games he plays are suitable and recommended for his age group, and keep in mind that games with a focus on violence should be avoided, as KidsHealth.org states that violent games can increase aggressive behavior and might negate the positive social development that might be gained from other games.