Growing up, my family didn’t own gaming consoles. They were expensive, and, according to my parents, a waste of time. Thus, going into my teen years, I had a rather disdainful outlook toward the “gamers” of the world. I couldn’t understand the obsession with sitting in front of a TV for hours on end, mashing buttons.
But then I met my (now) husband. He was funny, an accomplished musician, an A student, active in his scout troop and yet he still played video games. After a few years of dating, he finally convinced me to play The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. To say I was skeptical was an understatement; really I was just doing this for him as a birthday gift. I figured, elementary school kids can do it, how hard can it be? Oh boy, was my snooty little patootie about to learn just how much I’d been misjudging gamers.
I couldn’t figure out how to use the controllers. I couldn’t figure out how to use the map. I couldn’t remember what the next objective of the game was. I couldn’t figure out the dungeon puzzles. I definitely couldn’t defeat the boss on the first time. Or the second. Or the tenth. I was frustrated, frazzled and going quite mad.
I will admit, I did NOT enjoy my first video game. Not because the game was boring (it wasn’t), or the art was tacky (it was beautiful), or the plot line lame (it was fabulous). No, I didn’t like it because I was bad. B. A. D. Bad. I had spent my entire life buying into the “gamers are lazy” rhetoric, and not only was I wrong, but I had discovered that these games took skills that I lacked. They required fine motor control, attention to detail, long term memorization, map reading and most of all, perseverance.
Fast forward a decade, and I have converted to the “gamer” group. When played in moderation, video games can build character and also hit some important skills for younger kids. My husband claims that video games helped him learn to read. I know video games have made a huge impact on my growth mindset. Sure, not all games are created equal, but I personally cannot recommend the Mario and Legend of Zelda series enough. They’re chock-full of puzzles and mind-benders to really get you and your kids thinking.
Have younger kiddos? Here are some other fun and educational gaming opportunities!
- Check out a Launchpad from the library! These preloaded tablets have games that are entertaining, educational and cover a wide variety of topics.
- Stretch your child’s memory and context skills with TumbleBooks Games.
- Try out fun games featuring characters like Daniel Tiger and Arthur on PBS Kids.
- Hang out with characters like Dora the Explorer, Peppa Pig and the Paw Patrol crew while playing games on Nick Jr.
So the next time your kids are stuck at home on a rainy day with nothing to do, why not break out a new video game? They’ll be learning new skills, and you’ll get some time to yourself. Everyone wins!