3 Surprising Things Parents Should Know About Video Games

Do video games have an upside? Scott Steinberg, an author and technology analyst who’s written for 400+ outlets from Parents and CNN to The New York Times and Rolling Stone, tells me that they do. Here he discusses 3 surprising things he believes parents should know about video games:

  1. They’re not evil, destructive, or going away – besides being a perfectly normal and positive part of childhood, mounting research shows that gaming can have tremendous mental and physical benefits for children. But like any other part of a balanced media diet, you have to be careful what types of titles you consume, in what manner and to which extent. The one tip today’s parent concerned with video games and their potential effects on children would do well to heed: Educate yourself about them, and don’t be afraid to go hands-on with the controller. Games can be a powerful force for good, like any other medium – but you also need to make informed decisions, teach kids positive play habits and foster an environment that’s conducive to healthy interaction and development.
  1. They’re the future of education. Games and 3D virtual worlds offer massive benefits over passive, traditional solutions such as snooze-inducing lectures and presentations. Case in point: Interactive options encourage learning, experimentation and problem-solving in real-time sans fear of failure in lifelike contexts, letting students respond dynamically as situations evolve, providing a more realistic, engaging and retainable learning experience. Moreover, even everyday titles found on GameStop’s shelves – SimCityWorld of Warcraft, etc. – teach players how to manage limited resources, cooperate or delegate authority and problem-solve dynamically, while others such as Civilization V can spark interest in history, geography and foreign cultures.
  1. Today’s game player could be tomorrow’s CEO. According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), kids need more, not less, video game play. “The success of complex video games demonstrates that games can teach higher-order thinking skills such as strategic thinking, interpretative analysis, problem solving, plan formulation and execution, and adaptation to rapid change,” the Federation announced in a recent report. “These are the skills U.S. employers increasingly seek in workers and new workforce entrants.” Bottom line: The next time you tell your lazy teen to get off the Xbox and get a summer job, you may actually be doing them a disservice.

As you consider these points, do keep in mind that it is always important to make sure that video games – like any other form of technology – do not interfere with all those other important things kids should be doing, like reading, playing, and having positive social interactions. And do note that Mr. Steinberg has recently launched The Modern Parent’s Guide - the world’s first high-tech parenting book series covering all aspects of connected life from social networks to online safety (www.parentsguidebooks.com) – with the debut of The Modern Parent’s Guide to Kids and Video Games, a complete how-to guide for families. In addition to paperback, iBooks and Kindle editions, the volume will be 100% free to download.

Image of game controller via Shutterstock.com 

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  1. by Jeff

    On March 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Finally someone recognizes the tremendous upside to video games! Thanks to Mr Rende for recognizing and articulating the massive learning potential of interactive media. Just to add to the list, video games and learning apps also allow the learner to repeat the learning experience multiple times, at the learner’s own pace. This both empowers the learner and leads to mastery in a way that trumps traditional education’s desk-teacher environment.

    Also the iPad has really changed the game here with it’s portability and touch based input. The are so many educational apps available for the iPad that are, quite frankly, stunning in their ability to engage and teach. Check out Star Walk as an example of what this new medium makes possible as a learning tool.

  2. by Shawna Devoe

    On March 24, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    I have no problem with educational video games (in fact they are great at reinforcing concepts their teachers are teaching them), but the games that promote violence, killing, and the beating of other people are not good choices. Lets face it when the kids become teenagers and young adults not many of them are playing educational games, they are killing. Just my two cents.

  3. by Dwight

    On May 28, 2012 at 6:04 am

    Hi, just figured I would make you aware that some of your links are not working for me (the ones at the top of your website), I keep getting page not found errors :( – it is a real shame because it’s an awesome blog!