Remember back in the nineties and the early 2000s? It seemed that there was no way you could convince people that video games could ever be considered good. I mean, sure, there were the people who played video games. But there was so much bad publicity surrounding the violent content of many of the games that sold in the millions. There was also the extremely passive, seemingly brainless consumption of them. With all that in mind, most people would probably have given you a funny look if you tried to suggest that they could be really beneficial to anyone.
But fast-forward to post-2005 and it’s clear that times have changed. Video games are bigger than they’ve ever been, and more children are playing them than ever. So it’s important to look at the benefits they can bring to children before dismissing them entirely. (Though, of course, they do still need to get outside every now and again!)
Games can tell incredible stories
Are video games art? I’ll leave that question open for now. But there’s no doubt video games have been a great medium through which stories has been expressed. One of the problems with this point is that people will usually name as examples games aimed at adults. BioShock Infinite, Metal Gear Solid 2 and Red Dead Redemption do have great stories, yes. But they’re not exactly suitable for the young!
Thankfully, kids aren’t left out in the cold if they want games with strong stories. Okami, Ocarina of Time, Chrono Trigger and Kingdom Hearts all tell great, kid-friendly tales.
They provide fantastic learning opportunities
Video games, of course, have now become massive on mobile. And, as you probably know, young children aren’t exactly strangers to mobile phones these days! Thankfully, games are putting the touch-screen capabilities to good use with educational releases. In fact, educational games are a billion-dollar market that’s only getting bigger.
Of course, even the ones that aren’t explicitly educations can have developmental benefits. Puzzle games, for example, encourage new ways of thinking and problem-solving. Click here for more information about popular mobile games and their effects on children.
They’re incredibly effective at improving mood
As anyone who plays video games knows, they can be really good mood-lifters when you’ve had a bad day! But there may be more benefits found in games than a simply pick-me-up.
Research has shown that the right video game has tremendous effects when it comes to helping teens battle depression. You can read more about it here. With more and more kids these days being diagnosed with depression, this could be an extremely important finding. Kids may find it more difficult to talk about their problems, and we certainly don’t want to be putting kids on medication so soon. Sure, getting exercise and talking to parents or counsellors isn’t going to be beaten any time soon. And game use in older players can sometimes work as a distraction from things that can help long-term. But anything that can help someone with a mood disorder feel better is surely worth looking into.