Can Playing Video Games Make You a Better Parent?

I’m not a parent, but I am excited at the idea of being one some day. Such thoughts often flow through my head now that I sit less than two weeks away from marrying my wonderful fiancé. Imagining my little boy (or girl) sitting on my lap, helping me or being my spotter in whatever game I’m playing warms my heart to no end. I look forward to a day when I can say that video games, whether directly or indirectly, helped make me a better parent.

This idea occurred to me at the strangest of times — when I was reserving my copy of Halo: Reach Legendary Edition. I’ve always loved Halo and collector’s editions, and the Halo franchise has some of the best collector’s stuff out there. So, because of Halo: Reach‘s supreme packaging, I was basically mandated to own it. I tried explaining all of this to my fiancé while I was at the counter, who unsurprisingly rolled her eyes and asked why I wanted this thing that will only sit on a shelf and collect dust. When it became obvious the argument was not going in my favor, I explained that I needed it because it kept me in touch with my inner child, thus making me a better father for when we decide to have kids one day.

halo reach legendary edition

 Worth every penny.

Pretty good one, huh? Even though she didn’t buy it, I think I might have surprised her, but probably not as much as I surprised myself. It kind of came out of me without any thought behind it, but the more I did think about it the more it rang truer in my mind. I don’t mean to sound like suddenly I understood the ins and outs of raising a child, and all the work and attention they require. I also don’t want to sound like one of those parents who will let their kids practically raise themselves by allowing them to play whatever game they want. But I do know that if my father hadn’t introduced me to gaming with him at a young age, I probably wouldn’t be the way I am today. I can remember sitting on his lap as a young boy, watching and helping him play the computer games on our old-as-dirt computer; probably an Apple II. We spent many a day together like this after he came home from work.

Even through my teen years, up until my early twenties when I moved out of the house, my mother would occasionally sit next to me on the couch and just watch me play video games. We would just hang out and talk, and eventually she would fall asleep. She never played, but always seemed really interested, at least up until she fell asleep. As an adult I can easily look back on these moments in time and see how spending it together did wonders for me as a child. Just the plain act of doing something together in a video game, even something as effortless as sitting and watching without any words spoken, helped create a special bond and a feeling of comfort and belonging. It’s something I feel like most children probably don’t get with their parents.

Video games, mostly the act of playing them, are special because they help keep us young at heart. Simply put, they are fun to play — a leisurely activity. They also help boost creativity and imagination, two things that a child is almost unmatched in. And video games, unlike most other forms of entertainment or art, have the ability to unite people and create friendships, both through cooperative and competitive means. All these things seem essential to me when raising a child, forming a friendship outside of mere parenthood and bolstering something more meaningful that they might look fondly back on.

And as a parent looking forward to introducing my children to gaming, it would be a great sense of personal satisfaction to not only see them enjoying something I love, but also learning important life skills from it. By now it shouldn’t be surprising to know that gamers develop great hand-eye coordination, reflexes and puzzle-solving techniques when compared to average non-gamers. But certain games, such as strategy games and role-playing games, can teach handy things like economics, resource management, city planning, budgeting, reading, multitasking, and executive decision-making skills. I can personally say that playing SimCity 2000 early in grade school helped my understanding greatly in a few of these areas. Introducing these things at a young but appropriate age seems like it would be a great idea.

Not everyone will want to introduce gaming to the children however, and I can understand that. For me, video games have always been a big part of my life, and I’d like my future kids to be able to have that be a part of their lives as well, just as I had it with my parents. Of course, there is always the chance that my kids won’t even like video games, and they will be into something new and crazy that I won’t understand. Whatever the case, I guess the main thing to remember is to find something you and your kids love doing together, and do it. My parents did the same with me, and I think I turned out OK.


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Author: Tyler Cameron View all posts by

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