22 February 2008

Go play your video game!!

I hear myself saying that a lot to my boys, telling them to go to their room and play their video game. Or I suggest that they grab their Gameboy Advances for awhile. I probably tell them to do one or the other at least a few times a day. Many people would call this an example of bad parenting, I'm sure--but I happen to think that video games can actually be good for kids.

I know this is an unusual point of view, especially from a woman. Women, mothers in particular, are not the usual demographic when it comes to video game players. But I've been an avid player for years, and I have my own systems (Nintendo DS and Sony PSP) that I frequently play. I also play games with my children quite often. So I have first-hand knowledge of what video games are really like.

A lot of people assume that video games are a waste of time. Many put them in the same category as watching television or movies, as if playing these games is a passive activity. Well, let me tell you that playing video games on any system is most definitely NOT a passive activity! Any video game requires your child to pay attention, focus, concentrate, and listen to instructions. Playing these games requires eye-hand coordination because of the detailed game controllers. But, that's not all.

Most video games require some kind of puzzle-solving. Some are simpler, such as fitting blocks into certain spots or following the correct path to find the treasure. Others are more intricate, requiring deeper thinking skills. Some games challenge a person to use teamwork in completing a goal. And, nearly every video game involves at least a little bit of reading; many games have a lot of character conversation that must be read in order to understand the progression of the game.

My point is simply this--video games are nothing like watching television or a movie. Video games require a person to participate in the action in some manner; watching a show does not. Now, I'm not saying that kids should be allowed to play these games whenever they want, for as long as they want--limits need to be set on them as they do for anything else. But, I am saying that some parents should take a better look at these games and rethink their attitudes toward them. Video games can be a learning tool, not just a fun, extracurricular activity.

For more on this topic, you may enjoy my articles on this subject here: Four Reasons Why Video Games Are Good For Kids and How to Choose a Video Game System For Your Child.