As parents, we may equate gaming with mindless, repetitive, passive screen-time. In fact, today’s most popular games really challenge kids to develop vital life skills.
Can your child’s gaming habit equip her to handle real-life challenges - and maybe even help her achieve career goals? You might want to keep the answer to yourself for a few years. But there’s good evidence that the answer is YES.
And there are a few interesting reasons why. First, because games - like life - are all about problem-solving. Second, because playing games can actually boost creativity and teamwork. Third, because in the future, the way our kids will connect on the job will very much resemble an online game. (Think: the dawning of the metaverse.)
In last week’s blog, we talked about the concept of self-efficacy - the belief in one’s ability to succeed. Defined by Stanford University psychologist Albert Bandura back in the 70s, it is now believed to be the foundational mindset for a range of positive traits. Grit. Resilience. Perseverance.
And guess what? It’s also a mindset that gaming helps to develop.
Parental controls can help your child's gaming habit stay healthy and positive.
In fact, that’s been one of the major findings of video game research over the past decade. More importantly, the self-efficacy that kids acquire through gaming - as communicators, strategists, and problem-solvers - is transferable.
In other words, it’s a habit of mind that will persist offline as well, in a variety of real-life contexts.
Teamwork is another skillset that online, interactive gaming has been shown to enhance. These days, the most popular games involve working collaboratively with a team.
Many of the games kids love best are actually testing their ability to think through solutions, and create workarounds to clear obstacles.
It’s this feature that makes games like Fortnite incredibly gratifying - the social dimension of the game is as central to the experience as the competitive one. To be good at it, kids need to learn to communicate under pressure, while performing tasks that help the whole team get ahead.
And let’s not forget logical thinking and strategising. Many of the games kids love best are actually testing their ability to think through solutions, and create workarounds to clear obstacles.
Proof? The American Psychological Association has identified the five traits most closely associated with career success: volunteering, putting in extra effort, cooperating, following rules and endorsing organisational goals.
Surprise! These are the very same traits that champion gamers attribute to their success.
The confidence and skills gaming can instill in our kids can carry over to academic achievement and career success … within limits.
Those limits are the boundaries parents set around their children’s gaming habits. Kids who are unhealthily fixated on gaming - who meltdown when it’s time to study, play outside, eat dinner, or do anything else except Fortnite or League of Legends or PUGB or fill-in-the-blank - are definitely not honing a skillset but developing an unhealthy dependence.
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