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Video games are not only a fun activity for the whole family to take part in, but they can also have some surprisingly good benefits for the children who play them. Here are five surprising benefits children receive when playing video games.

Reading

Studies show that kids who play video games may get a small boost to their reading skills. This is true even for children who struggle with reading – and even when they’re only playing action games. Researchers think this may happen because kids need to figure out text instructions to play, so there’s a fun factor. Those who are reluctant to open a book often can’t wait to read the latest online news and info about their favourite game. That doesn’t mean video games should replace books, though!

Visual-spatial skills

Many games – like Minecraft – are set in 3D virtual worlds that players have to navigate – and there’s no GPS or smartphone map app to lead the way. The result is that kids who play these games have the chance to practise their visual-spatial skills, which can lead to a better understanding of distance and space.

Problem-solving

At the heart of every video game is a challenge. Some games can be mindless, like Space Invaders. But many others – from puzzles and mysteries to managing virtual cities or empires – offer players the chance to take on a problem and work to find a solution. Some researchers say children who play these video games improve in three areas: planning, organisation, and flexible thinking.

Social connections

Sometimes kids may have trouble fitting in and making friends in real life. Video games can be a refuge for them where they can find people to connect within a positive way. With parents’ lives becoming increasingly busy, gaming is also a practical solution as it offers the kids virtual playdates with their real-life friends. In addition, games are a mainstream topic of conversation for kids, just like sports and music. An interest in gaming gives them something to talk about at school, which can help with social integration

Imaginative play and creativity

Younger children have plenty of space for imaginative play, from LEGO, to dolls, to make-believe. But tweens and teens are often made to feel these kinds of activities are no longer socially acceptable for their age group. The great thing about video games is that they give older kids a chance to continue with imaginative play. There’s also some evidence that games encourage creative thinking. In one study, 12-year-old gamers were asked to draw, tell stories, ask questions, and make predictions. All of them showed high levels of creativity and curiosity.

A future career?

Did you know that the 16-year-old winner of the 2019 first Fortnite World Cup won $3 million? The other 99 solo finalists won anywhere from $50,000 to $1.8 million each.

Just as with professional sports, the chances of becoming a professional video gamer are very small. However, the video-gaming industry is growing by leaps and bounds, much faster than traditional sports and entertainment. Lots of careers exist in this growing industry, such as coding, marketing, or events management.

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