Pokemon Go and Other Video Games Could be Beneficial for Your Child’s Development

I grew up in an era of Mario Brothers and Pac Man. They were the type of video games that had you glued all day long; much like the games our kids youth play these days. Whilst visual graphics and gaming have much advanced with the times, some things remain the same. Prolonged gaming ruins our eyesight, leads to procrastination, and is can certainly be an obstacle to good grades in school, etc. etc. (I’m sure there is more but let’s leave it for now). However, let us not be too hasty in writing off video games.

Link to Reality

At the core of every video game is a problem, and the gamer participates in finding the solution, within provided parameters. In this way, a gamer’s mind is framed to expect problems and seeking solutions becomes the norm. As our daily lives are centred on problems, rules and solutions, video games can do well in preparing children for life and its conundrums.

Furthermore, the best games are those that players can relate to and model real world phenomenon. For instance, a child playing Angry Birds has encountered the essence of gravity and forces well before he opens a physics textbook. By the time school starts, the child would have had a myriad of in-game experiences to draw parallels to, making understanding more forthcoming.

Gaming breeds better problem solvers and quicker thinkers

As video games today focus on engagement, succeeding in the gaming world requires a certain level of reaction speed and multi-tasking. Studies have shown that gaming activates the pre-frontal cortex, a part of our brain responsible for higher-order skills such as decision-making and executive functioning. This explains why speaking to your children when they are in the midst of gaming evokes highly mundane responses (if any at all); their cognitive resources are being fully utilised whilst gaming. One may also notice that the only activities that he can indulge in whilst playing, are ones that are highly automated, such as eating or brushing teeth. This is because the brain is working at full capacity and is unable to handle more tasks unless they’re more automatic in nature. While both of the above are the type of actions that usually anger parents, it is also true that the child is undergoing training that primes him for problem solving and multi-tasking;, advantages skills that are advantageouspriceless to carry into adulthood.

Video games also stimulate the cerebellum, a part of the brain that is responsible for motor learning. In a recent study (please state by whom or at least where, e.g., University of Pennslyvania), subjects who played a video game as trainingprior to a psychomotor test, showed quicker reaction speed and a wider attention span to stimuli after undergoing gaming than before playing the game. As such, gamers can gain an advantage over non-gamers in terms of attention capacity, reaction speed and mental sharpness in general. A dose of Mario Kart anyone?

Physical Health

With technological advancement, many video games nowadays interact with gamers in a more physical manner. Game devices such as the Nintendo Wii and games like Pokemon Go uses cutting-edge technology to encourage gamers to get active and out of the house, which promotes health.

Encouraging the gamer to go outdoors also increases the chance of bumping into friends, which brings us to the final point.

Social Ties

The greatest advantage of modern video games may be the social opportunities they present. Today, multiplayer games give gamers a chance to interact and socialise with other gamers. This develops both the understanding of interpersonal and group relationships, allowing the gamer child to participate in group activities and helping to may cultivate leadership skills. With the right guidance, video games can be a useful platform for the social development of a child, perhaps even acting as an avenue of support for the child in trying moments in his life.

In short, video games might just be the needed boost in our education of the future. As is the case with all things, even those that are beneficial for us, moderation is key. Don’t write video games off. Rather, write it in… into a schedule, to get the most out of it.

Written by Dr. Joel Yang