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How Mobile Games Impact Children's Development

How Mobile Games Impact Children's Development

By    |   Friday, 02 April 2021 12:00 AM

Since they first became commonplace, video games have had an incredibly bad reputation with it comes to parenting. Anyone who grew up with games will likely remember being called out for playing too much, being told to read a book, go outside or at least “do something in the real world”.

Of course, the potential for videogame addiction and social isolation from overindulging in games as a child should not be understated, but as a world we need to come to terms with the fact that video games can be really beneficial for the cognitive and social abilities of children.

Here we’ll take a look at how mobile games, specifically, impact a child’s development.

Types of Mobile Games for Kids

Mobile gaming is incredibly diverse, meaning lumping all games playable on a mobile device into this one category isn’t super helpful. Here we’re going to break down three key types of mobile game which are particularly prominent and useful for children.

It’s worth noting that there are a range of mobile games, such as those that rely heavily on microtransactions which are not ideal for young users. These detrimental microtransactions come in two main flavours: those to get ahead in the game (such as buying lives) and those which resemble loot boxes or spins. It’s easy to argue that these features in particular games promote child gambling, which is simply a no-no.

That said, avoiding these bad eggs, mobile gaming has a lot to give.

Educational Games

This may be the most obviously positive type of game for children to partake in, as it provides the immediate and crystal-clear function of educating the user. Such games come in many flavours, from quiz-based games to ones where you explore specific subjects in a gamified format.

Entertainment Games

This is, of course, an absolutely colossal category—but it is one which stands in stark contrast to educational games as these games don’t explicitly have education at their heart. However, the power of entertainment-focused games comes from the level of engagement they can have with many different types of players.

For example, let’s say a player picked up Stardew Valley for mobile. Alongside having a good time, they have the opportunity to learn a number of skills: from spelling, grammar and writing to some rudimentary understanding of resource-management and village planning. Of course, many of these skills are gamified, but, as with much media, such games can serve as an introduction to a new subject matter which may in fact become that young player’s passion in the future.

Puzzle Games

Sitting somewhere between the educational game and the entertainment game sits the puzzler—a format which is incredibly good at teaching both verbal and non-verbal problem-solving skills. This makes it one of the most ideal formats for young players, as the intense cognitive activity required to beat puzzlers can help develop one’s thinking, while puzzlers are not pushed as educational per-se, making them a much easier sell for young players.

Skills Developed Through Mobile Games

Each mobile game is likely to bring a whole host of different skills to the table, but here we’ll look at the bigger picture of what skills a young player could hope to gain by playing a variety of different titles.

Problem-solving

As mentioned with puzzle games, mobile games offer a great opportunity for young people to develop a variety of problem-solving skills. These can range from language skill—be that a primary of foreign language—to non-verbal puzzle solving. These problem-solving skills can even relate to particular real-world skills, such as learning how to program to deal with resource management.

Emotional Skills

Engaging with any type of narrative media imbues us with some kind of emotional understanding. Video games are no different. Emotionally engaging mobile games such as Florence allow players to engage with complex emotional experiences, sending them out the other side with some deeper emotional knowledge.

Literacy

A biproduct of the many words which are included in any gaming setting, is a constant engagement with reading and comprehending language. Be it reading trivia questions, character dialogue or item descriptions, the endless engagement players have with text in game can help to bolster a young person’s vocabulary and spelling. That said, this certainly shouldn’t serve as a substitute for formal literary education.

History and Culture

As many games place us in particular historical eras or cultural locales, players of such games inherently develop some kind of interest in these places and their histories. As such, playing games even as entertainment focused as Clash of Clans can provide young players with a keen interest in learning about a particular era or locale.

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Social Skills

Multiplayer games have the inherent bonus of having young people interact with each other—in person of over the internet. This can work in a number of ways by allowing players meet new individuals or solidify existing relationships. And by providing groups of young people with shared goals—or healthy competition—those relationships can blossom quickly.

It’s also worth noting that such social interactions can also be shared between parents and children, meaning co-op games (both local and co-op) can be great ways to get a bit of parenting in. And don’t worry, if you’re not a gamer yourself you can always get involved in trivia or puzzle games which don’t require such gamer-heavy skillsets.

That said, free games like Fortnite have proven to be solid hits with children allowing them to work together online, something which has been particularly valuable over the pandemic.

It’s clear that mobile games can be a great asset to bolster a young person’s development—onboarding skills to help both in their future workplace and social lives.

That said, it is worth ensuring that they are not sucked into the bad-side of addiction- and microtransaction-heavy mobile games. The best way to do this is through clear conversations and education over the dangers of such games. But, with those out of the way, mobile games provide fertile soil which helps to promote holistic development of a variety of skills in young people.

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Since they first became commonplace, video games have had an incredibly bad reputation with it comes to parenting.
fortnite, mobilegames, kids, education
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2021-00-02
Friday, 02 April 2021 12:00 AM
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