Why playing on a PS5 is just as good for kids as a few hours of maths

WANT your kids to be smarter?

In fact, would you like them to be more sociable, quicker-thinking, more decisive, happier and more successful too?

If the answer is yes (and let’s hope it is), I have the answer: Make sure they play video games.

Picking up a control pad regularly is, I believe, as important as doing a few hours of maths a week, learning masculine or feminine nouns in French or signing them up for the local footie team.

It is certainly more important than GCSE geography.

And, finally, the scientific community is proving it.

Gaming is having a bit of a week. The sumptuous PS5 and Xbox Series X have landed — a once-every-seven-years moment when we all salivate over new consoles we can’t possibly buy because they are sold out until Easter.

Yesterday’s launch of the PS5 sent the internet into overdrive, with frantic parents and gamers trying to snare 2020’s answer to Buzz Lightyear, for the VERY 2020 price of £450.

There will be some unpopular mums and dads this Christmas — as well as some sulky youngsters — who end up with a PS3 by mistake.

But experts say that because gaming is now such a massive and diverse industry, there are many games that are good for learning, development and sociability.

Silly, outdated ideas of games being all about shooting people or running them over have, thankfully, gone the way of the dodo.


If that IS your thing — and you are old enough — that stuff is available from the likes of Call Of Duty, Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto and The Last Of Us — just as it is with movies and TV.

But Us, Fall Guys, Minecraft, Animal Crossing and Fortnite are among a bunch of games that encourage teamworking, strategy and creativity, as well as actually making us happier human beings.

MEMORY

A University of Oxford study of over-18s last week revealed that a few hours of the island-set farming sim Animal Crossing and the shooting game Plants Vs Zombies made people happier the longer they played.

And a University of Montreal study of 4,000 adolescents found that while social media causes anxiety, gaming made them happier.

During the national lockdowns of this crazy year, when kids have been kept apart for so long, putting on a headset to game with their mates has kept many from retreating into themselves.

There are other benefits too — and the facts speak for themselves. People who play 3D games such as Minecraft and Super Mario Odyssey perform better in memory tests than non-gamers (University of California, 2015).

Shooters such as Fortnite greatly enhance your spatial awareness (American Psychologist Association, 2013).

Call Of Duty accelerates your decision-making (New York’s University of Rochester, 2010).

Gaming is good for your socanial skills too, with 70 per cent of gamers going online to play with friends (Pew Research Center, 2015).

I could go on.

And that’s not to mention the educational techniques that have been gamified to make them more interesting for kids.

Any parent who has struggled with home-schooling maths will tell you Times Table Rock Stars and Squeebles have been, quite literally, game-changers. Of course, studies show games can be very addictive.

Instead of keeping them away from consoles, I put controllers in their tiny fists as soon as they were capable.

But managing their screen sessions and not letting your kids play past a certain time at night teaches them discipline and how to manage their time.

At 45, I don’t always manage this myself . . . but I try.

As a parent, I made sure my kids played games from an early age. Instead of keeping them away from consoles, I put controllers in their tiny fists as soon as they were capable.

My eldest daughter and I now reminisce about the time we finished Lego Pirates Of The Caribbean together.

It is a happy memory and something we bonded over, though most of the time she thinks I’m an embarrassing idiot.

Two of my three kids are now regular gamers, while the other isn’t. The results are interesting.

Five to try with them

Among Us: A deduction game set in space, with one member of the crew a secret killer. You play on your phone and a family of five can get involved together after dinner.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout – Total Wipeout against 99 strangers. Hilarious, random . . . and lots of fun.

Fifa 21:If you really want true kudos as a parent, step up and beat your kids’ mates as Dundee United.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – A beautiful, gentle island sim in which you grow plants and fish. Just about the only game I have ever got my wife to play.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2: A pass-and-play, quick-fix skateboarding remake loved by teenagers and dads alike.

The gamers are faster at solving problems and better with technology. The third is sportier. As with all things, it is about balance.

So it is “game over” to the days of thinking video games are destroying our kids.

The next time one of yours says they just got to level 50 in Fortnite, do them a favour: Give them a hug, feel proud and humblebrag about it to your own mates on Facebook.

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