Keeping safe online 4: Skills gained

While playing games, users can learn the benefits of being part of a team, understand the different skills sets required to complete tasks, learn to share and take turns and experience the satisfaction benefits of completing a range of levels, or constructing artefacts, as games such as Minecraft offer the opportunity to do. This feeling of achievement can translate into higher confidence, and an understanding of progress that can be translated offline.

There are also opportunities to develop hand–eye coordination, or, with logical games, cognitive improvements such as creative or lateral thinking, strategic skills and decision making, or simply developing new knowledge in reading, writing and arithmetic.  

In 2012, the US Department of Education studied the use of the iPhone app Martha Speaks Dog Party in schools.1 Children aged 3 to 7 who used it every day for two weeks had widened their vocabulary by as much as 31 per cent.

Those who are involved in long-term games practise persistence. They often develop responsibility: think of the responsibility involved in looking after virtual pets such as Tamagotchi.

Remember also that games may offers ways to unwind and escape in an over-structured world. Not everything has to be ‘educational’, although learning through play has a lot of educational research backing it. It’s all about ensuring a balance of activities, online and offline.

Dr Bex Lewis

Dr Bex Lewis is the Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint and the author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014), where you can find more information. Passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way and trained as a mass communications historian, Dr Lewis is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University, with a particular interest in digital culture, and how this affects the third sector, especially faith organisations, voluntary organisations and government behavioural campaigns.

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