There is little doubt that today’s children are more exposed to digital media than any previous generation. Some parents find it difficult to navigate the often conflicting advice available that says how many hours screen time is appropriate for which age and what sort of media is okay.
Of course, there is still much academic work to be conducted in this area, but what has been done indicates that digital media can be a positive influence on children. Indeed, age appropriate websites and online games can even help to promote development, in some cases.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), parenting has not really altered in the digital age. Adults need to take an active interest in their school-age children’s online activities and to deal with digital problems just as they would in the ‘real’ world. Parents ought to be prepared play a video game with their kids, they claim.
Furthermore, after the age of two, screen-based games and apps can have an educational role and digital media can also play a part in bridging the gap between learning and achieving. By setting goals that can be achieved by children with a little patience, many games allow younger kids to feel a sense of accomplishment. In the best games, this will also be educational and promote feelings of self-improvement.
If you look at the sort of anticipation there is among children for popular titles like LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, it is easy to see the power of the gaming industry among the young. However, far from being a destructive influence, well-designed games from trusted children’s brands, such as Marvel Kids, ought to give parents a sense of assurance that their kids are playing in a safe environment.
Indeed, the AAP suggest that it is the quality of the online content that children are exposed to – rather the time limit that parents set – that is of most importance, so long as some reasonable rules are put in place. They point out that interactive media needs to offer more than mere ‘swiping’ to be able to make the claim to be genuinely educational. Organisations like Common Sense Media can help parents to rate games and apps for their educational value and age appropriateness before downloading them or allowing their kids to access them online.
Although the shared experience of the multi-player gaming world has been shown to improve sociability among some older children, single-player games also have their part to play, too. Occasional players of puzzle or logic type single-player games can improve their ability to deal with some school maths problems.
According to a 2012 research project conducted over 26 countries, this is because children simply have more confidence solving maths questions at a computer. Children who play every now and then were shown to outperform those who never played, given certain types of tests, according to the study. As such, it seems that the right sort of video gaming can really help kids to learn and make progress in an ever-changing digital landscape.