Must-have skill #7: learning from gameplay

Children love to play games, whether they are playing tag outside with their friends or are active in an online gaming community. Because they love to play games more than they might like to read or study, some parents are understandably concerned. Children are constantly attached to their phones. They play Fortnite in the darkness of their room late into the night. They beg for money to buy in-game goodies. Some parents might be dragging them out of line for the newest game in the hopes they throw themselves into meaningful work instead! But you might want to reconsider…

Of course, moderation is key for everything, but parents might worry less when they realize that playing games can actually be a great skill boost for your child! Can their improved skills in-game be applicable to real life? Surprisingly, yes.

There are many different games out there that can enhance the quality of life and improve the mind. For example, chess can promote critical thinking; dodgeball can teach them collaboration; Mario Party can enhance social skills. These skills, in turn, can have many practical uses but it all depends on how your child learns and grows from games to evolve in real life to a better them. There are so many possibilities for who they could become with these skills!

They could become…

The strategist of the century

Strategy is key for games, particularly ones based on battlefields, like chess and League of Legends. Even if your child will never step foot on a battlefield, strategizing involves critical thinking, analyzing, long-term planning, improvising, and problem-solving. All of these are amazing skills to hone!

Chess has a simple goal: put the opponent’s king in checkmate. However, getting to that point is not easy. Your child has to analyze the board, predict the opponent’s movements, and think many steps ahead. Then, your child spends the next chunk of time adjusting, waiting, and analyzing in a state of heightened focus. Even Tetris involves some strategizing but at a much quicker pace. Your child’s strategizing and recognition of patterns will get better with practice, and they can use these skills in real life.  

Practical uses: strategize a way to get into their dream college, prepare to ask for a promotion, negotiate, make calculated investments.

A detective that rivals Sherlock Holmes

There are strategy games like the ones mentioned above, and then there are deductive-reasoning games that force players to use the process of elimination and logic to reach a conclusion. There are physical games like Clue, Battleship, and Guess Who? and digital games like Nancy Drew or the Agatha Christie series which involve many in-game puzzles. All of these require your child to use their analytical thinking and deductive reasoning to answer a question or solve a mystery.

These games help your child visualize a scene in their head, put together literal and figurative puzzle pieces, and think outside of the box. Creativity, observation, and analysis are key here! It is a mega boost to their common sense and ability to read situations and people.

Practical uses: figure out what their parents got them for Christmas and who keeps eating the last slice of pizza.

The one everyone wants on their team

Games can vastly improve people skills. As mentioned before, they increase the ability to read the other person, which can be useful when arguing or negotiating. However, these people skills do not only apply to opponents. Many games involve team play, so they highlight the ability to collaborate. This involves good communication, efficient leader-follower dynamics, and awareness of what weaknesses or strengths other players have.  

A professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, Katherine M. Keyes, Ph.D., stated, “Video game playing is often a collaborative leisure time activity for school-aged children. These results indicate that children who frequently play video games may be socially cohesive with peers and integrated into the school community.”

It is also a way for your child to bond with their friends, socialize, and create memories. The School Children Mental Health Europe project released its study on the effects of video game playing on children’s mental health. The study found that the frequent use of video games led to fewer peer relationship problems.

Practical uses: complete group projects, make friends, create strong bonds with mentors.

The genius goal chaser

If you want your child to be a focused go-getter, this is how video games can help. In the same study by the School Children Mental Health Europe project, it was found that the frequent use of video games led to not only 1.75 times the odds of high intellectual functioning but also the 1.88 odds of high overall school competence.  

With that ability to focus and longer attention span come the persistent mindset and patience to run steadily towards a goal. Many games, particularly digital ones nowadays, set up a reward system that can parallel goal setting in practical application. It will be deeply ingrained in your child that resilience and diligence eventually lead to rewards.

Practical uses: study for tests with visual aids, set up plans to reach a goal, take a brilliant basketball shot.

Board, card, computer, phone, and video games can all help your child excel in life in ways that you may not have considered before. As a disclaimer, it is important that you regulate the time your child spends on games and what kind of games they play. It also helps if your child is aware of how they can benefit from the games. However, you may worry less now that you know the full benefits your child can reap from doing something they enjoy.

To further help your child learn from games, feel free to analogize their challenges to their games. For example, when they are studying a battle for history class, you can help them visualize the historic battle based on their gameplay. When they seem unmotivated, you can liken good grades to achievements on a game they need to reach in order to get a reward. You can host Wii parties for your child’s friends and see their confidence rise from positive social interactions.

What are some of your child’s favorite games to play? Let us know on our Twitter,Instagram, or Facebook, and stay tuned for our next post on a Must-Have Skill for children!