Taking the veil off of gaming with your kids
There is a strong stigma in today's society and it has been there for a good while. Video games are a waste of time and they are bad for kids. How can successful adults result from kids who do nothing but sit on their butt's playing video games all of the time? Allow me to explain a different perspective than most people care to recognize. Video games are a very influential part of a child learning critical thinking at an early age. In my personal experience, as being a man who remembers getting a Super Nintendo as a 4 year old in 1993, video games were a monstrous part of my childhood. However it is not my childhood of which I wish to talk about, but the childhood of the little girls that I am currently raising. I am a father of 6 year old and 4 year old daughters, them being only 17 months apart. We have a lot of fun together. One of our favorite things to do together is to play some games on our PlayStation 4. We have also had some very hard times throughout our gaming together. There are many things of which I would like to write about when it comes to the experiences learned with my kids. So many that I am going to be writing a series of articles about such things. Today will be my first entry into my Gamer Dad series.
The most amazing thing that I have been able to teach my daughters at their young age is being a good sport. A lot of the games that we play are against one another and often there is much fun to be had. The fun ends when one of the girls doesn't get first place (I never get first place). This is when I jump in as quickly as possible and explain that playing these games to win is not the point of us playing together. Then we may switch to a team-based game, in which the result is still the same. One of the girls didn't get first place, and that is a big deal. I then explain life is not about winning. No one is going to get first place all the time, it just does not happen. When we are on a team, if one of us wins, all of us win. We are a team, that is the point as to which we are playing the game. For the entirety of the team to succeed, not just yourself.
Lessons that stick
I have actually witnessed my children taking these lessons learned upon their peers within school and daycare. I have received many compliments from their teachers and other parents about how great they participate with other kids in school. Their sense of comradery, I believe, is largely due to the team-based games that we have enjoyed together over the last year or so. I have gotten a lot of heat from other parents as well, saying that these games are bad for my kids. If these games were truly so bad for them, why would they be able to take such good lessons learned in the living room and apply them to the real world? I urge parents to always be active with their kids. Do stuff with them indoors or outdoors. The sense of accomplishment, pride, and care that they feel from the time spent doing such things with you sticks with them. There are many that argue that these lessons are better taught through team sports or natural life events. However, I am extremely proud of the fact that my children are already learning and have learned many things from playing video games. Most kids their ages won't learn such things until well into grade school, assuming they are involved in any extracurricular activities.
Betrayal, and hating your sister
Another important lesson we have learned over the course of our gaming is forgiveness. Many of the games that we play allow you to "accidentally" kill your team mates. Every so often, an instance occurs where one of the girls has been getting killed far too often by "accident". The other will think that this is a hilarious event and continue beating the virtual crap out of her sister. Often these games end with a controller dropped to the floor, then a girl screaming and crying because her sister is mean. I allow these things to happen between them. It's a natural thing, it's going to happen sooner or later. I would rather combat this kind of sibling rivalry early, and get them to understand that it's just a game. They tend to absorb this information as there are waterfalls coming out of their eyes. The next time a game is to be had, teary eyed or not, they do their best to simply enjoy the game. In time, they get over the betrayal, and once again have fun with one another.
Lastly, the most important thing that I get my kids to understand is that video games will always be there. They'll be there when the sun is down, when you get home from school, and on the weekend. When you lose, you lose. It will happen often throughout life and playing video games. Get over it and try again next time. This is something that they have understood since the beginning of our playing games together. A bright and sunny day is there for only a day, there is no guarantee we will have time do stuff outside the next day. Living in the moment of now, knowing fully that their games will be there for them to enjoy later. It is one of many lessons that I would implore to any parents reading this, to implement in their own experiences raising children. Video games are nothing to be afraid of when it comes to raising your kids. If anything, it's something to jump into with them, because there are a lot of great times to be had together.