(High-tech parenting writer Scott Steinberg, a professional keynote speaker and business consultant, is launching a new book series, “The Modern Parent’s Guide,” and a companion video show, “Family Tech: Technology for Parents and Kids.” The following is excerpted from “The Modern Parent’s Guide to Kids and Video Games.
Opinion by Scott Steinberg:
In addition to understanding the many real concerns that today’s parents have with video games, it’s also worth considering the benefits and positive aspects that contemporary interactive entertainment choices provide.
Certainly, many popular titles today are M-rated and intended for discerning adults, given the average age of today’s gaming audience. But the vast majority of games can be played by a broad range of ages and still manage to be fun and engaging without resorting to foul language or violence.
“Games can definitely be good for the family,” says the ESRB’s Patricia Vance. “There’s plenty of selection. Oftentimes I think parents feel that they’re not because video games in the media are portrayed as violent, and hardcore games tend to get the lion’s share of publicity. But parents also need to be comforted knowing that E for Everyone is by far largest category [of software]. Nearly 60 percent of the almost 1,700 ratings we assigned last year were E for Everyone, which means there’s a huge selection of games available that are appropriate for all ages.”
In fact, most video games do have quite a few redeeming qualities – even those with violent content. All games can and do have benefits for players, and in a number of different and sometimes surprising ways.
Educational Benefits for Students
A recent study from the Education Development Center and the U.S. Congress-supported Ready To Learn (RTL) Initiative found that a curriculum that involved digital media such as video games could improve early literacy skills when coupled with strong parental and teacher involvement. Interestingly, the study focused on young children, and 4- and 5-year-olds who participated showed increases in letter recognition, sounds association with letters, and understanding basic concepts about stories and print.
The key for this study was having high-quality educational titles, along with parents and teachers who were equally invested in the subject matter. That way kids could discuss and examine the concepts that they were exposed to in the games. Also interesting is the value that video games are proven to have even for very young players. A study by the Education Department Center further found that low-income children are “better prepared for success in kindergarten when their preschool teachers incorporate educational video and games from the Ready to Learn Initiative.”