Online Gaming Helps Kids Deal With Conflicting Situations

Over the years, it’s become clear that online gaming is here to stay. It’s permeated the lives of adults just as well as it has with kids. Actually, some experts have begun to argue that online playdates might have a positive effect on children. Why is that? We delve into the world of kids’ online game playing and how it helps them handle conflict in real life.

What Experts Say

Two boys playing online games.

When asked, many parents say they both love and hate games like Fortnite and their counterparts. However, many have acknowledged the positive effect it could have on kids. Playing together allows children to comment on anything that might have happened at school. From discussing someone’s “anger issues” to strategizing on how to overcome a difficult challenge while playing online, gaming has the potential to teach kids a lot.

With that in mind, playing online games doesn’t mean leaving kids to fend for themselves. Sometimes, parental intervention is necessary. Keep in mind that the rules of real-life playing together may not always apply to online games. Here’s why a parent should step into their child’s online world.

Online Gaming Develops Problem-Solving Skills

Boys playing video games together

Randi Pochtar, Ph.D., is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health in NYC. She says parents should avoid meddling in their kids’ online gaming playdates, as it helps them develop problem-solving skills. The assistant professor believes intervention is necessary when there’s a safety concern involved. Otherwise, children should be left to develop problem-solving skills on their own.

Young kids may need assistance, though. Many of them still develop the language skills to express themselves. So, parents could help by encouraging them to use phrases that allow them to show how a certain action makes them feel.

How Intervention Should Be Done

If a parent sees that their kids struggle to solve some conflict while gaming online, they could try to speak with the other child’s parents (if they know each other, of course). Dr. Pochtar recommends parents suggest new playdates if necessary.

Mom and daughter discussing a problem.

If you deal with an older kid, they may not always welcome a parent’s eavesdropping approach. So, trying an inquisitive approach may go a long way. Say, for example, a kid says their friend has “anger issues.” Instead of debating the issue with your own judgments, Dr. Pochtar suggests parents deal with the matter with curiosity. Of course, children are allowed not to like a certain action of their friends while gaming online.

The parent’s role, in this case, is to show their kid that there’s nothing wrong with being disappointed by their friend’s reaction. But they should also help them learn that different actions (or reactions) should be treated as happening in the context of the game. They might not define who the other individual is in general. Such an approach may help children not take things personally.