I’ve unlocked another fatherhood badge: Playing video games with my five-year-old T.
For all the worries that I have about the learning gains that T may be missing out on while in lockdown, I have full confidence that he is excelling in digital literacy skills.
Last weekend, T pulled up a chair and plopped it next to his chair at our dining room table – which has been doubling as our work and study spaces – and asked me to sit and play Sushi Slicer with him. My heart just soared. My little boy wants me to play video games with him.
It is mind-boggling to think about all the video gaming options available today – console based, online communities, mobile apps, and more.
I grew up loving and owning several Nintendo consoles and had a big affinity for role playing games, because it allowed me to immerse myself into fantasy universes.
I don’t game as much these days, because work and parenting consume my life. I enjoy more simple puzzle or word-based mobile games when I do have time.
As a parent, you often romanticize your childhood and dream about introducing things you loved to your own child. I often thought about how fun it would be to game with T.
I was reluctant at first to introduce gaming, because I knew about screentime limits (which we’re far exceeding these days!) and because T already had hyperactive behaviour at times. But the 10 weeks that we’ve been in lockdown has changed my mind.
Here are a few reasons why gaming is awesome for T:
· Kids Learn Best Through Play – T’s amazing teacher introduced many incredible learning games that has allowed T to learn about math, shapes, letters, reading, science, social studies and art in the way he learns best: hands on, interactive play. The learning games on ABCya! are amazing.
· Kids Learn That Rewards Are Earned – I’ll always remember the excited scream from T a few weeks ago when he got a high score on Sushi Slicer and he asked me to look at his high score. The screen displayed an “Improved” badge and he was so proud.
· Kids Learn About Perseverance – The nice thing about video games is that if you die, you can try again. And if the game over, you can start from the beginning. There’s been several times when I’ve been on a work call and T would scream and I’d explain to a colleague he hit the bomb on Sushi Slicer. I’ve turned these into teachable moments and explained that it’s ok to fail but it’s important to try again. It’s been awesome to see him repeat these messages when he stumbles.
· Kids Build Digital Literacy Skills – It’s incredible to think that this kid has figured out my password and how to log on my tablet and navigate to his gaming websites by himself. Technology is key to daily life today, so T is building important skills while playing.
The Papa and T bonding time is the best reason for gaming, if I do say so myself!
T enjoys having me sit next to him and watch him play Sushi Slicer.
I can sense his pride when he gets a good score and knows that I watched him earn that milestone. I enjoy watching him play and get excited when he is nearing the possibility of beating his previous high score. We cheer loudly and hug each other when he earns a high score.
I love that when T finishes his turn, he lets me take a turn – turn taking was something we worked so hard on over the years – and I get such a kick when he coaches me with advice. I love that he wants me to beat his high score. Sportsmanship and teamwork – what more can you ask for?
I look forward to the day when I can introduce console gaming to him and turn him into a Nintendo fan. I can’t wait to play a Mario game together or to dive into and lose weeks of our lives immersing ourselves into a Final Fantasy or other RPG game.
Life is most enjoyable when you are having fun together and games have been a wonderful catalyst for T and I to have fun together, while learning, growing and bonding.