One of the best things about being a family is simply spending time together as a family and one of the best ways to do this, is to play games together. Some of my fondest memories as a child were playing board games with my family or on my Sega Mega Drive Console, that’s right – the retro consoles, I sure cherish those memories! This article discusses both the advantages and disadvantages of board and computer or console games and addresses how parents could deal with any shortcomings.
One of the first advantages is that games that are geared to the younger market or on the simpler end of the scale such as UNO, help children establish and recognise colours, numbers and develop their hand/eye coordination. Children also learn about movement and dexterity when moving coloured pieces around in board games such as snakes and ladders. In terms of older children and their development, they keep their brains engaged especially through games such as Monopoly or Cluedo where they have to strategize, problem solve and just generally think about their decisions.
Board games also play an important part in memory formation. They also encourage concentration in children and thereby help develop concentration as a skill which they will require throughout their life and also teach them that nothing is guaranteed and that it is not only okay to lose but is a fact of life that you cannot win all the time and thus will make them more rounded as a person.
Another big advantage of board games in terms of learning and development is that from the age that they start playing they realise that there are rules that have to be adhered to. It helps them practice sticking to the rules and realise that through the game there are penalties for not following the rules. This will then benefit them when they are in situations such as at school when rules must be followed or penalties will be given.
One of the disadvantages of board games is that it can harm their attention span just as much as help it. This is because children will get a quick and gratifying fix with the board game and come to expect the same level of gratification in as quick a time frame for everything and if they do not get it they will move on. Thus, one of the ways to combat this would be to help their attention grow in other ways such as reading, arts and crafts and so on.
Another disadvantage is that older children may prefer to play computer games etc, as they may feel that board games are for small children, so to combat this it would be an idea to start playing board games when they are young and nurture this throughout their childhood.
With computer games, there are also benefits and disadvantages for children’s development and learning. Some computer games are aimed at very small children such as leapfrog merchandise that teach them letters, numbers, reading, comprehension and so on, whereas others are games that have an age rating for as young as three years old such as Minecraft for example can also teach young children about numbers, problem-solving and so forth.
An advantage of computer gaming is that it encourages motivation and attention span, the main reason for this is due to the the colours, sounds, movement and so forth to keep children (and adults) engaged. Another advantage is that whether computer-simulated or playing with someone else, the games usually require a level of teamwork or problem solving and thus, encourages learning how to work with others effectively and efficiently, which are essential life skills.
Computer games such as the Sims, Fortnite and other games that have a creative element also develop and encourage creative thinking and lateral thinking as the players can change the world and create it to their requirements. The disadvantages of computer games, however, are that as with everything in contemporary society, most games have an online element meaning that your child can be subjected to trolling activity which could affect the development of their self-esteem, so make sure that parental controls are in place first.
Children can become so enamoured by computer games that this takes over everything, so it is important to ensure that your child is still spending time playing in the real world also as this can also aid their development and life skills. As with everything in life, there are both pros and cons to board games and computer games but if you are keeping a watchful eye over the content and the way they are playing, then they will have a positive effect on your child.