I Can’t Believe What Video Games Taught My Kids

video games
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash
Wait, I thought Video Games were the breakdown of human society as we know it?

Well yeah, if you are going to sit in front of the screen for 10+ hours a day only interacting with people via WiFi. This past summer I instilled some electronic usage limits for the kids and it’s given me the chance to see the upside of their gaming habit.

Retelling Quests Improves Comprehension

I love spending time with my kids, playing board games and teaching them how to play Spoons, Sevens, Texas Hold ‘Em and other card games from my childhood. But when it comes to video games, it’s not my jam. I’ll stick to the classics where you can race against each other or get to solve puzzle games by dropping different shaped blocks. Because it’s more fun for me to play with a group of people. I don’t want to sit there watching someone walk around fulfilling quests.

Not my idea of fun.

For the most, they are ok with that. After they are done, they get to explain their game to someone (me, the noob) who has never played. In essence, they get to relive their game by remembering details that’s allowing them to expand their comprehension levels.

Learning To Fix Mistakes By Failing

A little boy I babysit on occasion needs me to watch him play all the time. Instead of being a warm body to keep him company, I end up playing games I don’t want to play.  I know he needs my attention, which is fine, but after playing the same game for 15 minutes, my eyes get tired. This is where I explain to him that he can continue but I’m done.

To which he responds “I can’t do it.” This is the point in which I give him the opportunity to learn how to fail with the follow conversation.

Me: ” Well, you’re right. If you say you can’t, then you can’t. But you have to give more than one try.”

Him:”You do it.”

Me: “No, because if I do it, you won’t learn how to play this game. I’ll give you some suggestions but you’ve got to do it yourself. You are the one who wanted to play the game so try it without my help at least 5 more times.”

Him: “Ok…”

If I sit there and do it for him, then I’m robbing him of a big life lesson: How to problem solve when he get stuck in a difficult situation.

I have been doing this for years with my kids. They know that Mom doesn’t play Minecraft and Fortnite. My reason being it’s more exciting for them to build an entire city so they they can tell me about their accomplishment. I want them to proud of themselves on their own merit not because it’s something I did for them.

Playing video games is learning the art of failure over and over again. I have watched my sons continually lose levels  but continue to play the game until they complete the task. How willing are you to finish the job? Are you going to give up when it gets hard or stop playing because you have to defeat a big ol’ mean boss?

Working Through Frustrations On Their Own

While I don’t want my kids turning into zombies, watching them play video games is very telling of how they are with other tasks. Sure, they get frustrated at the game and want to throw a controller. I feel the same when my computer is acting up and want to throw it out the window. I don’t do it but I get mad and figure out another way to get get things done.

Video games also let my kids work through arguments with each other. They figure out how to be patient with one another especially when someone isn’t doing it the way you would. My middle two boys will go rounds with each other fighting about whose way will work and getting mad when it doesn’t. In the end, somehow they are jumping up and down excited when they win. The process is messy, but they work through to see where adjustments can be made on their own.

When kids are so used to people doing everything for them, they will expect it in other areas of their lives. I have see it when other kids come to our house. My kids are not their first choice when it comes to helping them defeat a guy or beat a level. They come to me.

Guess what? Homey don’t play that.

Mom Is Not Always Right

In our house, the boys know how to play these games because they have figured it out together. They are the ones we go to when we have a gaming issues. Here’s why: It’s because we have instilled a level of confidence in them where they are the expert in something I am not.

While Mom is usually the go-to person, my kids know someone else might have a better solution to their problem. It’s amazing to watch from the sidelines when they are in the zone helping a friend through a quest.

It’s not that I won’t ever play anything but it’s got to be the right game. In fact, you want to throw down at Tetris, have a dance off with Just Dance or watch me blow smoke in your face in Mario Cart? You’re on, Kid. Sidenote: We also teach our kids that we never LET you win. If you want me to play with you, I’m going to bring my A game. So you better bring yours. I’m not here to give you a participation trophy, I’m here to win. That’s probably another reason my kids don’t like to play with me that much. I’m actually good at video games.

Ultimately, I’ve got ulterior motives to teach you life lessons as I watch you lose. Remember, I’m not step in to help you beat your quest.  Trust me, I’m smart enough to figure it out for you but that is completely and utterly besides the point. And you know what, kid, you got this, too!


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