8 Ways Video Games Can Be Educational

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It may surprise you, but interactive games aren't all bad. In fact, video games can be educational! To help your child get the most out of her video game habit, teach her important life lessons and study skills that are embedded into every onscreen adventure.

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By Meg Butler

Video games have a lot to teach kids—but those lessons require parental involvement. Instead of letting your child zone out in front of the flashing lights, start a dialogue surrounding how video games can apply to real life. Take a look at how video games can inspire your young learner.

Perseverance

Video games are great at encouraging perseverance and overcoming fear of failure. The next time your kid is afraid to fail a big test, remind him that every failure teaches a lesson and gives him a chance to pick himself back up and try again. If he can't beat the game (or math quiz) on his first try, he can learn from his mistakes and give it another shot next time.

Working Together

Literacy researcher James Gee advocates using video games to teach kids to “collaborate to solve hard problems.” Video games with cooperative gameplay encourage kids to put aside their differences and work together. A game session paired with a discussion afterward can help your child be a team player in real life.

Achievement

Video games praise players when they do things right with experience points and unlocked achievements. You can use these techniques to motivate your child in the real world, like awarding him with a “Bed Making Achievement” badge, complete with a small reward of 20 free video game minutes, when he makes his bed without being asked.

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Problem Solving

Teaching problem solving skills in a fun way with the help of your child's video game console. To turn a game into a lesson, watch a game level and help your kid talk and think about how he overcame obstacles. A quick talk will help him understand the problem solving skills he’s learned and how to apply them to real life challenges.

Competitiveness

Kick-start your kid’s motivation to complete chores and homework with a little friendly competition. Construct a leaderboard at home, and a chart with chores and tasks that every family member can excel in, along with a place for stickers to track progress. Announce weekly prizes for the most active helpers, and then sit back and watch the games begin.

Independence

Kids growing into a new sense of independence don’t always want help—even when they need it. Video games often keep players motivated through hard levels by placing helpful hints on screen. Give your child some light guidance by leaving sticky note “hints” to help him get through tasks from laundry to book reports while still supporting his self-reliance.

Research

Video games can be learning’s “gateway drug." Historical games like Squire or Assassin's Creed can encourage kids to research the facts behind the fun. Piquing interest in any subject can be as easy as checking out a cool game and prodding your kid’s curiosity by asking questions about it. A video game can captivate kids who have trouble getting excited about a textbook. 

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The interactive, fictional environment of a video game is a great place for kids to learn and grow. Give your child a little help translating games into real lessons, and he just might feel more excited about tackling challenges in the world around him.

Is your child spending too much time cooped up in front of the TV? Check out these fun outdoor activities for every age.

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