Contrary to popular belief, video games are not all bad for kids. In fact, if you watch your child play for a few minutes, you will see that he plans, organizes and problem-solves while engaged in a video game – skills we would all like our children, especially our ADHD children, to develop. Suppose he could also transfer those game-playing skills to everyday tasks?
Randy Kulman, Ph.D., submits through an article on additudemag.com that playing Minecraft and other skill-building video games might actually improve her focus, working memory and other executive functions? He suggests you use the following three steps to tap into the skill-building potential of video games:
- Help your child identify the thinking and problem-solving skills that are necessary to play the game.
- Encourage metacognition and reflection by talking about how these skills are used in the real world.
- Engage your child in activities that use these skills, and then talk with your child about these skills connect to game play.
Some popular games you can use to encourage your child to connect game-based skills to real-world skills are:
BAD PIGGIES: A puzzle game, from the makers of the popular Angry Birds, which challenges players to build contraptions that carry the “piggies” to their destinations. At the start of each stage, you are shown the level layout, given a collection of parts, and sent on your way. It is up to you to invent a solution to each puzzle — there isn’t only one right answer.
Skills a child uses: Bad Piggies requires a child to use different strategies in order to advance. The player needs to think flexibly and consider several ways of escorting the piggies through the stage. She may be discouraged at a few failed attempts, but perseverance pays off.
Skills to practice outside the game: Show your child that it is okay to make mistakes. Take a wrong turn on an outing on purpose or mix up the ingredients in a recipe. Show her how to keep calm while making the necessary corrections.
ROBLOX: An online virtual playground and workshop. Players are given basic tools with which to construct buildings, machines, and other creations to explore the Roblox world.
Skills a child uses: Players use working-memory skills when they learn and remember how to use the different tools for arranging and building objects and altering their appearance. To improve working memory, explore the different features in Roblox Studio with your child, and encourage him to become familiar with the location and layout of the available tools and instruments. Practice working-memory skills in the game by building a small house.
Skills to practice outside the game: To build working memory, do a step-by-step project that requires remembering what you have already done, such as following a recipe or planting a garden.
MINECRAFT: Players are placed in a borderless, randomly generated land with no supplies, directions or objectives. They have to decide what to do and how to do it. Players collect materials from the world around them in order to “craft” items and build whatever their minds can imagine.
Skills a child uses: Improves planning skills because players need to set and achieve goals within a time frame. As your child starts the game, she’ll need to collect mined materials, build a workbench on which to craft items, and construct a shelter. Discuss with her the need to focus on the task at hand in order to achieve her goals before the monsters arrive at nightfall.
Skills to practice outside the game: Practice planning skills by deciding together what your child needs for school. Begin with a list of essential supplies — pencils, notebooks, markers, backpack, and lunch box — then list the other materials or things she’d like to take to school. Decide which items to purchase. Encourage your child to make the lists on her own, and to determine the most important items to buy.