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Video Games Helpful for Learning and Socialization?

.Events this year have led to changes in facilitating education that no one saw coming. With COVID still being present schools have had to adjust and make changes. This has led to online schooling and with many parents choosing traditional homeschooling.  While our family has homeschooled for years there are many that this is a new experience.

One major concern that many have with homeschooling is socialization and  are there ways to ensure adequate learning. Our family has used many methods to ensure socialization and learning in our homeschool journey. These methods have included co-ops, supplemental lessons, projects, field trips, and even video games. Parents may wonder how can video games be beneficial to socialization and learning. I was fortunate enough to be able to interview a expert on the matter of whether video games can be helpful with learning. 

Abid Abedi, Founder & CEO of iCode is an experienced entrepreneur with over 15 worldwide startups in technology, wireless services, IT consulting, and more. iCode is a national computer science education franchise offering after school and summer programs, equips children with the skills and knowledge to compete in today’s technological environment. Committed to quality and providing in-depth learning experiences, the brand’s proprietary curricula and several unique technology education programs set it apart in the fast-growing coding education space.

Social Aspects Of Video Games

Many parents are concerned with the social aspect of learning at home. They wonder if they will be able to adequately provide opportunities for their children to interact with their peers. There are many ways to encourage socialization. One avenue some parents are taking are to utilize online interactions and even video games.  In my interview with ABid Abedi Founder & CEO of iCode I asked his thoughts on if video games can be considered social. 

Can video games be used for social interactions and social learning? Yes or no? Why or Why not?

  • The upcoming school year will look different for students of all ages. School districts across the nation are making the transition from in-person learning to online. As e-learning becomes the new “norm” for the foreseeable future, video games are a great outlet for kids to safely interact with their peers.
  • Not only can games allow kids to talk and play with their school friends, it allows for long-distance friendships and allows for new friendships to form.
  • Kids get the opportunity to work in teams, which builds communication and problem-solving skills.
  • Parents often worry about the use of profanity or bullying, however monitoring by parents and the use of parental controls can help to ensure children are not being exposed to this type of interaction.

Can Video Games Be Educational

The main focus of school is education. Every parent wants their child to have a well rounded education to better prepare them for the future. Just because it is for learning does not mean it can not be fun. Learning outside the box is one of the ways my boys learn the best. Being able to enjoy the experience helps to cement the information in their minds. This can be thru the use of experiments, hands on learning, field trips, videos, and even video games. During the interview one of the longest discussions was about the educational aspects of video games. 

What specific areas of learning do video games assist with? (For example: critical thinking, reading, cognitive)

  • Learning comes in many different forms. Kids learn from word-of-mouth, textbooks, educational videos, etc.; video games are just another form of learning.
  • There are many types of unique games, there are many areas of learning that video games assist with. They can increase critical thinking, problem solving and cognitive skills (specifically memory).

Are video games more beneficial for specific subjects? (For example: will gaming help better with reading, math, science)

  • Video games range in unique categories, from entertainment and action games, to strategic learning games. There are plenty of games that will strengthen specific topics or subjects and games that kids will gravitate toward based on what they like to learn about – some games will hone in on a child’s creativity, while other games (like adventure games) help develop strategic thinking skills. As a child’s interests continue to grow, they can transition into more complex ideas such as coding, e-sports or even join a gaming league.

Is there an age range that gaming would be more appropriate for learning?

  • Learning starts from the very early stages of life, and playing is learning. Most video games have a rating system for parents to know which games are appropriate for their children (for example; T for teen, E for everyone, M for Mature (17+)). Be sure to pay attention to the ratings and stay informed on why a video game is rated a certain way. Parents who are informed on these ratings can better decide on what their children should play.

If you are using video games for learning should there be a time limit?

  • The amount of screen time kids are taking in has jumped during the pandemic. While parents are working from home, they need help keeping their kids occupied. This might be a simple way for parents to keep their kids focused on something – while staying productive – but parents should limit their children to 1-2 hours of screen time per day.
  • There should be time limits, especially for young children. The World Health Organization mentions that infants should get no screen time whatsoever and children 1-4 years old should get no more than one hour of screen time. There are not many restrictions listed for older children, but of course they should make time to play outside and be a kid – during COVID-19 it can be easy to hand kids a tablet to distract them so you can hop on a work call, but try to offer them more educational games during weekday school hours.

Are there any specific games that in your opinion could be beneficial? If yes please 1 or 2 per age range birth-5, 6-8, 9-12, 13-15, 16 and older.

  • While there are not specific games we find specifically beneficial to different age groups, there are multiple skills which gaming requires that help children progress developmentally through all of these age groups as they grow to play progressively more complex games. These aspects include the intense abstract thinking and speedy decision making required while playing. Games also make children enthusiastic about creative problem solving. In playing these types of games, children also can be observed collaborating, bouncing ideas off peers, learning from each other’s mistakes and even creating their own sense of community.

Are There Any Other Possible Benefits 

In addition to the social aspects and educational benefits we were able to discuss other ways video games could help in the learning and development of children. 

Can video games be useful in other ways such as stress relief, motor skills, hand eye coordination.

  • Video games are a good way for children to help with hand eye coordination development

Can video games be useful in learning life skills?

  • Programs like iCode’s Pace Program and iSports Gaming League capitalize on children’s love of gaming by using video games to teach children coding and computer science skills. This learning about computer science and new coding languages can be intriguing to children while helping to translate their interests into real-world skills.
  • Learning a coding language  can give children a leg up while taking exams and in their future careers.
  • The process of learning a coding language has also been proven to help children’s academic success jump up to two grade levels.

Parents worry video games may promote a sedentary lifestyle. Are there any games that promote physical activity?

  • Yes, in fact these games are coined “exergames.” There are many games on the market like Nintendo’s Ring Fit Adventure, Pokémon Go and Just Dance, as well as gaming systems like the Wii that fit into the “exergaming” category.

Is there anything else you would like to say on the benefits of video games?

  • One of the most important considerations for parents whose children have had reduced academic and social experiences in the last several months due to the pandemic is ensuring their children continue to meet important developmental milestones.
  • Especially given the current situation, technology and gaming make for a COVID-friendly way to encourage children to continue developing cognitive and social skills.

Final Thoughts

My family homeschools and I am a strong believer in utilizing any means to educate my children. I do not hold to the idea that it all needs to be book learning. In our family as I have previously mentioned we do use various methods of teaching and learning. One of these is video games. However, I should state I do use specific games for specific reasons. I also limit my children’s time on electronics as I do not believe that is the only method of learning. I want my children to be well rounded. We have set times for book learning, more traditional classroom atmosphere, hands on learning, field trips, and the use of electronics. Video games can be very beneficial if properly monitored and used.  I was very pleased to be able to interview Abid Abedi, Founder & CEO of iCode on his views of video games being used in a educational manner and if they could be beneficial. 

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