Even if you're not that into gaming, playing together can be a great bonding and learning experience for the whole family.
- Randy Kulman, Ph.D.
Kids love video games, but parents often have little knowledge of what their kids are doing when they play, or why they even like video games so much. For parents of kids who love video games, playing with them can be a beneficial bonding and learning experience for the whole family. Here are five tips for your family video game night.
1. Start simply
Pick games that you as a parent can master. Short casual video games that you can find on your cell phone or an app that you can use on a tablet device are recommended. If you have younger kids, some of the best games include Toca Life: City and Cut the Rope. If you have older kids, try Angry Birds and Bad Piggies.
2. Become a student of the game
Switch roles with your child and have her teach you something. In addition to helping you learn the game, this will give her an opportunity to work on empathy skills when she recognizes how inept you are at playing her favorite game. It might even teach your child a little patience.
3. Watch and learn
Sit right next to youar child while she plays a console game. This will give you an opportunity to connect with her and spend some quality time together. It will also help you understand what makes video games so exciting and fun for her to play.
4. Talk about what you see
Use this time as a springboard for discussions about learning from games. Ask questions about gameplay strategy, cooperative play and overcoming in-game challenges. At LearningWorks for Kids, we try to maximize the learning of problem-solving, thinking and academic skills from video games. Kids get the most out of digital play when they reflect on the challenges they face in video games and connect game-based learning to the real world. Getting involved with your child’s video game play not only helps her learn real-world skills — she’ll also learn that you care.
5. Gamify your life
Go one step further and “gamify” real life! Give each other “character names,” stats and missions to make the everyday more fun. You’ll learn a lot more about video games and you’ll get your kids translating in-game skills to the real world, too.
Randy Kulman, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and founder and CEO of LearningWorks for Kids.