I have never been a mom fond of video games but I do try and give my children the benefit of the doubt. I always make sure that I review the game so that I know what they are playing is appropriate. I know there has been a debate about children being in front of the television and not getting outside more often, which is leading to the increase of obesity in children, but I find that my children do a little of both, in moderation of course.
I have always been a big fan of Mario Bros since I was a child. I remember my first Atari and how my siblings and I shared the games. It taught us a lot about good sportsmanship. We learned that you didn’t have to win every game to be considered a “winner” and that it was okay if you weren’t first. It also taught me how to debate with my siblings in a verbal but non-threatening way. I often see many children getting very upset if they lose and they are also mean to one another. Just recently I overheard a conversation that went something like this, “Carter, I had more points than you. I had ten but then I got six more so it increased to sixteen”. That was like music to the ears of any teacher. Here my children were discussing numbers and explaining the “reasoning” behind it without bickering.
I decided to look at one game that has become an instant favorite of my boys, Mario Party 9. I really enjoyed the “Mini Games” component and some of the games that it had to offer. Looking at it from a perspective of a teacher these games do have a lot to offer, again in moderation. In mini games you have the choice of picking what you want to play and you can have as many as four players. Already I enjoyed it- four players, so plenty of interaction and fun for the entire family and “choice”. The children are able to select from twelve characters, some being Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy and the list continues.
Some of the Games that I enjoyed were as follows:
The two characters have to jump to reach coins that contain one, three or ten points. The goal would be at the end of the thirty seconds to have the most points. These skills entail adding up all of the points and also keeping track of those thirty seconds to meet your goal. This requires you to pace yourself and also keep track of your score. Although there is a score board I often hear my children completing mental math just to see how much more time they have and also to see if they are beating the target.
In this mini game the two opponents have to collect as many pink and gold flowers as they can. The pink flowers being valued at one point and the gold being valued at 3 points. You must watch out for the piranha as once you touch it you are easily decreased by one point. This enabling the children to see and make a mental note of the concept of subtraction and using operations to figure out the answer.
In the Party section the children must choose from a list of stages to play from. They soar through outer space using their imagination and collecting mini stars toward the goal. When hitting the dice the children are using inequalities- which person has the “greater” number, the number that is “less” or even “equal to”.
As a parent I can go on about the way in which video games can increase math skills, reading skills as the children are being prompted throughout the entire game and they must read words such as “machine” and “jackpot”, the use of their imagination, and them using eye-hand coordination to get from point A to point B by keeping the remote vertical or horizontal in a steady form. I am in no way promoting video games to be played around the clock. The next time your child is playing a video game, take a moment and see what that game has to offer. These games can assist your children with math and reading skills that they can apply to their everyday lives, again…all in moderation.
How do you feel about video games in your home?
Disclosure- The opinions in this post are all mine and I was in no way compensated from any video game to write this.