Video Games and Pandemics: Why You Should Encourage Your Kids to Play

Since the first games were engineered in the 1970s and 1980s, video games have become a part of everyday life for some people.

Whether it’s on a PlayStation 4, X-Box One, Nintendo Switch, a computer, or a mobile device, they’ve only grown more popular year after year. COVID-19 has pushed video game popularity to whole new heights.

However, many parents are worried about how games might affect their kids and if they’re even good for kids. Here’s what you should know about video games and kids.

Why Are Video Games So Popular During COVID-19 Quarantines?

The launch of the newest edition to the Animal Crossing game series, New Horizons, occurred on March 20, 2020, only a few short weeks into the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic. The game has since been bought by millions of people all over the world. Why? Because video games help people escape from their current lives and the problems surrounding them. They can be played with other people while following social distancing regulations and they can help alleviate stress, aid in processing emotions, and encourage learning and hand-eye coordination.

Aren’t Video Games Violent? Won’t They Encourage My Kid To Be Violent?

Video games come in endless varieties, from shooters to puzzles to roleplaying games and more. This variety ensures that not all games include gory violence. In fact, one of the most popular cross-platform games — which means it can be played on many different devices — is called Minecraft. Minecraft is a sandbox game centering on building and exploring a randomly-generated or a player-chosen world. While the game does involve the killing of animals and various monsters, it can be played on modes that eliminate some of this violence. The widely and wildly popular game has been purchased over 200 million times and has millions of players.

Other video games known as interactive story games can actively encourage emotional development and understanding as you play storylines that tackle things like mental health, cancer diagnoses, and human mortality. That being said, there are violent games, such as Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and Player Unknown’s Battleground. However, these do not encourage violence outside of the game environment. There is no scientific evidence linking video games to violent actions in the real world. If you’re worried, use ratings to determine what you want your kids playing.

But Video Games Don’t Teach Anything, Shouldn’t Kids Go Outside and Play?

While it is true that kids and teens need to get some exercise one a daily basis, it’s not true that video games are just a form of entertainment. Video games encourage a number of skills and abilities in children and teens such as hand-eye coordination, literacy, attention, perception, decision-making, and memory. Among younger groups, such as the 86% of 5-year-olds and 68% of 4-year-olds in pre-school, video games specifically developed for this age group can encourage early reading, math, hand-eye coordination, and other early learning skills.

Older kids and teens often use video games to talk and interact with friends. Not only can they communicate with friends they know at school, but they can meet other players from all over the world. Additionally, children on the autism spectrum, children who have learning disabilities, or kids who struggle with anxiety or panic attacks can benefit from video games that help them learn in different ways, better understand emotional situations, and encourage social interaction without the pressure of face-to-face conversation. While 47% of teens said that Invisalign increased their self-esteem, teens don’t have any reason to feel self-conscious in an online world where they can choose to look any way they want and have fun with friends.

Gaming sales increased by 37% in August of 2020. During this time of COVID-19 panic and social isolation, connecting with others and being able to relax and escape reality for a little while is important. Encouraging casual gaming in kids and teens not only allows them to interact with friends that they can’t see but provides a safe space to be themselves without judgment or causing any problems. While you should make sure they get outside for some daily activities, don’t outlaw the computer or console. Games are good for everyone.

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