Tips for Making Video Games a Positive Influence for Your Kids
Michael and Pang aren't just game developers with Frogdice, they're also parents to two young (10 and 7 years old) girls who are avid gamers themselves. We caught up with them to chat about how they manage gaming to reinforce it's positive benefits for their family.
Developing Reading and Writing Skills
Michael shared a story about how the game Spore helped his oldest daughter with her reading and writing development:
"Our older daughter - the game Spore really helped her learn to read. We gave her the strategy guide to Spore when we first bought it, and it was like her constant companion. The pages were all worn from her wanting to read and figure out what everything meant. And then also learning to write the biographies for all her little characters."
Pang added an experience, stating that:
"Our girls - both of them play League of Legends with us. But we never play online with them, we always play with bots, and there's a lot of strategy to be learned there. Our eldest is the number one player on her chess team at school, and I have a feeling that all the strategy that we've let her learn from games has really made a difference."
They shared stories of their young LoL players expertly wielding some of the more challenging characters, and often doing so better than their parents. Once they're old enough to play online, look out for a talented team of League players from this family!
Tips from Pang and Michael:
1) Give kids new games to keep it challenging
"We also don't let them keep repeating the same game over and over, there's no challenge for them, they stop learning. We take those games away from them and introduce them to new ones."
Once your child masters a game, introduce a new one that ups the difficulty or teaches a new skill. Pang explained how their family decides when it's time to trade up:
2) Mix play time and game play time
"On the weekends, I just say: 'go play' and after awhile, I'll be like 'let's go outside.'"
Pang tells us that weekends are a mix of outdoor time, play time, and computer time.
3) Look out for YouTube
"People will make Pokemon strategies with tons of profanity."
Michael warns that the moment when you buy the game isn't the one you need to worry about as much as when your kids go online to look for strategies. You can pick a completely age-appropriate game and wind up with a very inappropriate walkthrough.
4) Location is key
"All of our computers are really close to each other, so we can just peak over and see what's going on."
Michael suggests not putting your family's gaming consoles or computers far from where you'll be.
5) Look deeper than the suggested age
"We pick age appropriate games, but sometimes you might be surprised by what we play."
Pang makes a very good point. While many parents may not immediately think League of Legends is appropriate for young children, Pang and Michael are careful to control their girls' game experience by using offline play and bots - thus eliminating exposure to the often harsh LoL community and focusing on the strategic learning opportunity the game presents. In other games where the non-age appropriate content is more integrated throughout, they simply don't allow their daughters to play them. Both Pang and Michael cite engagement as key to making games a positive influence.
Many, many thanks to Michael and Pang for sharing their time and their tips with us! It was wonderful to hear how these to gamer parents are crafting a powerful learning and bonding experience for their family through the use of games.
Questions? Advice to share?
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