Computer Gaming can be immensely powerful as an education tool, even where you least expect it. Here are nine lessons we learned as parents with game crazy children.
1. Broaden your perspective
Even the most banal game might offer learning opportunities which you may not realise. Look at what your child could be learning beyond just the theme of the game, for example, social skills, multi-tasking, general computer skills, typing, reading, or numeracy.
2. Parent equals games curator
Don’t lazy out and say no to games just because you don’t have time to investigate. You might be denying your child a possible opportunity. Do the research. Google is your friend, but don’t jump to conclusions at the first over-conservative review. People can be close-minded to broader concepts.
Ask other parents about the game, often there is a craze about a certain game and someone else would have come across it first. For example, we were very wary about Fortnite.
Remember, gamers don’t stop playing games when they have kids or turn forty. Lots of parents play games as well, even if they deny it.
3. Be open and accepting
Our children will be exposed to things we don’t want them to see. This will happen whether we like it or not. Be open to being asked awkward questions and to learning new things and unlearning old ones. Locking down the conversation will simply drive your child away from you. These days you really want them talking to you, otherwise they may be talking online to people you don’t know. Strive to be that open-minded highly regarded source of advice.
4. You can’t stop them going online
You may was well cut off their legs to stop them walking around the mall because you’re scared of the weirdos. The web is there, and they need to learn to use it or they will struggle to cope when they get out there on their own.
5. There is no replacement for family values and ethics
These come from you and your communities. Your kids need these street-signs for guidance when they are immersed in data from every source imaginable. You cannot expect game designers to build the values you expect into their games. You can bring your children up with values, so they know what is right and wrong online.
6. Accept the loss of control
They won’t ask you what games to play, and they won’t play games you tell them to. I frequently buy games out of pure interest and see my sons playing them a few weeks later. I’ve become sneaky with this and try and select games with interesting themes which I think they might learn from. I suspect they are on to me now though.
7. Games are not the school curricula
Nobody has developed a game release format which follows a specific school curriculum (yet). But if you follow what is happening at school and guide the conversations about games, you can have some remarkably interesting dialogues.
Stay in touch with teachers, your child’s education is a partnership between you as a parent, and the school.
8. You will re-learn what you have forgotten, and do a lot of research
Be ready to learn from your kids. One of the strongest methods for knowledge retention is to teach what you’re learning. We will write more on this in later articles. If your children teach you, they will lock in more knowledge than if they were preached at from a textbook.
Be prepared for the questions though, and be ready to admit you don’t know, but don’t leave it there. Sit with your child and do the research together. Give them work to do while you do other work and solve a bigger problem.
9. You really can learn a lot from your kids
To repeat the last point, it is surprising how much you can learn from your kids.
I asked my son about the Discord gaming communication tool they were using. At work we struggle to get people onto modern technology. Here is a population of teenagers and young adults voluntarily doing what we haven’t perfected after so many years. What have I learned from this? You can’t force people to use technology, you can just make it available and let them decide. I have now embedded this in my change management strategies at the office.