Video games are teaching our kids to succeed in the 21st Century.
There exists a lot of media hype about the effect video and digital games have on our youth. Do they instigate violence? Do they make us introverted?
My fundamental belief is that this depends on whether they are good video games or bad ones.
Good video games can teach kids how to learn things on their own quickly and then use these skills to achieve, make constant and rapid decisions that affect things they do, improve hand-eye coordination, develop creative problem solving skills, exercise control in challenging circumstances, be persistent, pay attention to detail and think strategically and laterally as well as linearly and logically.
I have two young children and have witnessed, firsthand the huge impact good video games can have. Like most parents, I was initially frustrated when my children would snatch my cell phone to play games when I had important business to attend to. But as I noticed the tremendous influence they had it seemed obvious to me these games had potential to motivate and teach young learners.
My personal transformation from mom and English language teacher to entrepreneur and game app developer began after mobile game apps were introduced in 2007. I discovered research that proves video games are not only helping but also preparing our kids for life in the 21st century. In his book Don't Bother me Mom -- I'm Learning Marc Prensky argues that if parents include good digital games in their children's daily routine, they will accelerate their language and cognitive growth, and give them the skills they need for the high-tech global world they will live in.
In 2004 a book published by the Harvard Business School Press, Got Game: How the Gamer Generation is Reshaping Business Forever, presented the theory, based on thousands of interviews, that people who play games make better business people.
The authors claim that gamers are more successful in business than non-game players, because they:
• Are good at rapid problem-solving
• Are committed to professional excellence
• Put a high premium on skill and adding value
• Have a strong sense of competence
• See the world through the eyes of competition
• Care about their organization
• Love data
• Are comfortable taking measured risks
• Multi-task well
• Learn on the fly
• Think globally
• Expect themselves to actually deliver
These are skills that can be learned from both the more complex console video games as well as casual games played on mobile devices.
The problem I found with most educational games I played with my kids is that they are like digitalized textbooks and quickly lose the players' attention, which defeats the purpose of using games for learning. I found the trick to creating a compelling learning game is to start with the objective of creating a great game, and then make the learning part of what the player does in the game to achieve their goal. This engages children and gives them a sense of achievement so that they keep on playing and therefore learning.
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