This is coming from someone who has basically been playing video games since being in diapers.
It’s now 2018, so does the gamer stigma still rear its ugly head every once in a while? You bet it does. But from my perspective, it seems to be getting a little better, albeit rather slowly. Video games and the communities that enjoy and celebrate them have come such a long way since I picked up a controller for the first time.
No joke, I nearly cried tears of joy and pride when I happened to catch two big colleges in the area (Ohio State vs Michigan) actually stream a competitive game of League of Legends.
I grew up with video games ever since the Sega Genesis came out. I had all sorts of gaming consoles and devices, and I would be occupied by these games for hours on end. An entire day would easily be spent sitting in front of the television with my console and game of choice.
But how do I feel about games now that I am a parent? As with all other media and entertainment like TV, movies, and books: good in moderation. Games today can provide a helpful platform for me to teach PJ so many things, as well as improve some of her cognitive and developmental skills.
But I’m not talking about how video games will affect her this time around.
This one’s more about how video games can make me a better parent, and another excuse to talk about how awesome they can be. Here are a few things about video games today that I like to think are beneficial to me as a parent:
Kids are smart. They can pick up on things quite well. And this can come back to bite me in the butt later when PJ is older. She’ll know if I try to pretend to be interested in something she likes just for her sake. I can only hope she will be into the Xbox as much as her mommy and daddy are when she gets older.
I’m eagerly looking forward to the day where I can hand PJ a controller and have her jump into the game with me. Better yet, I’ll grab the husband too and make it a family affair. We may not be going to the zoo or out to a restaurant together, and there may be days where the weather doesn’t cooperate and forces us to stay inside our home. This is still some A+ quality time spent as a family in my book!
We also get the opportunity to teach PJ while playing with her, whether the game is labeled educational or not. There are good things and bad things, but we get to talk and engage her in conversations about what happens in the game. For example, if we encounter toxic players online, we can use those moments to teach PJ about proper sportsmanship, and then proceed to pwn the trolls in the game. We can also just talk about how silly the characters look or how frustrating a level is to clear. (If you want to know what real anger is like, try Cuphead for a bit.)
Improved Decision Making and Multitasking
Just this past week, I can easily count how many times I needed to react quickly in order to avoid certain disasters involving PJ – and I can credit my fast responses to my favorite action games that required me to make decisions very quickly.
Now, this is not just in how fast I react to something, it’s also how well I can react to something in just a few seconds.
This neat little skill comes in handy whenever I’m about to see PJ fall off of a couch or bump her head onto something pointy and painful looking. It’s also saved me from getting into any car accidents even before I had a baby.
Also, remember in my first post when I said that multitasking was important after having a kid? Good thing I was already accustomed to doing this while gaming. I don’t know how I would manage to get anything else done otherwise. Baby carriers and slings were a lifesaver for me in the early days so that I could keep up with chores that needed to be done around the house. It even helped in my work life, especially while I was working in the food and service industries while in college. Without multitasking skills, I would have probably died long ago from exhaustion.
For Fun and De-stressing
Okay, this one is a duh. But it’s worth mentioning.
Too much stress is bad. Being able to jump into Saints Row IV after a bad day to take out my anger on some alien butt is awesome. Or if I’m going through a sad spot, I can escape into the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout 4 to mope around the nuclear wastelands and be glad that is not my actual life.
Or if I want a cheap and cozy date night with my sweets, I’ll load up some games like Don’t Starve Together and Army of Two to play with him and we’ll order a pizza. That’s perfect for when we are both tired from work or just life in general. It also helps that we both like video games, I suppose.
It’s important for us to have time to ourselves so we can be happy and healthy for PJ, and we are so blessed to have the family look after her when we need that time. Like tonight, for instance. I wish I could say it was for a date night this time, but I’m currently struggling with the worst toothache I’ve ever had, enough to warrant a visit to the oral surgeon first thing Monday morning. Fun.
What do you think? Do you think video games could be beneficial to parents, or are they just more distractions to tackle? Share with me in the comments below!