Gaming Can Be a Healthy Way for Kids to Connect

The media gives gaming and technology a bad rap, with stories frequently citing the fact that most American kids spend more than the recommended number of hours online. Stopping your children from playing games altogether, however, could be tantamount to “throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” since games are an important means through which kids connect with others socially. If you find a way to limit your child’s tech time while at the same time encouraging social games instead of solitary playing, what benefits could your child reap?

Online Multiplayer Games Foster Lasting Relationships

Finally, the myth indicating that gamers and techies are all antisocial loners has been busted. Research undertaken at the University of Jyväskylä has shown that online multiplayer games encourage or demand social interaction between players. In fact, many games require players to collaborate in order to make progress. Moreover, some games are focused on creating healthy competition between different teams of players. It is also a myth that gamers don’t meet beyond the online sphere. Team players often meet face to face and take part in online video calls, creating authentic friendships that surpass the screen.

Strengthening Existing Friendships

Games can also be used to strengthen relationships made at school, work, and other settings. Games like Animal Crossing, which are considered safe and appropriate for kids aged five and up (according to parents and kids voting on Common Sense Media), have features that encourage players to interact with people they already know. Animal Crossing: New Horizons, for instance, allows players to add friends, invite them to online play with a one-time code, and give friends privileges when visiting one’s island. Online interaction is a great way for younger players to learn the value of cooperation. Friends can explain key Animal Crossing terms, send each other gifts, and trade a wide array of items. Additional games you may like to play online with friends include Houseparty, Mario Kart Tour, and Cards Against Humanity.

Being Part of a Diverse Group

Appearance and status matter little when playing online, and that means that assiduous players can form part of various diverse communities that can broaden their outlook. As a team, players negotiate goals and values together. They also learn vital skills such as decision-making, time budgeting, planning, and conflict resolution. Team members may disagree regarding tools or weapons to use, strategies to take, or characters to adopt. Moreover, players may have different conflict styles, which need to be taken into account when making a final decision. Team challenges hone skills such as patience, listening, and compromise, all of which can be very useful in their daily lives (both at school and work and in their personal relationships with others).

Online gaming is a fact of life for most kids in the US and the rest of the globe. Today, children rely on gaming not only for fun, but also to establish and strengthen social connections. Parents wishing to limit their kids’ reliance on technology can do so without necessarily depriving their children of the chance to form part of a dynamic online community of friends.

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