Video games have been a part of my life for as far back as I can remember, starting with the original Nintendo and Super Mario Bros. to the current Playstation 4 and a mobile game on my iPhone called Clash of Clans. I’ve never once thought about the negative or positive effects of playing video games until my two boys were old enough to start wanting to play them. The thought very first came to me when my oldest son came home from kindergarten and proceeded to tell me how he played games on an iPad, which in reality he was learning math, how to read, and science concepts all from a technological device. Video games were once thought to be detrimental to a young person’s development that caused violent tendencies and low scores at school, but that ideology is slowly evolving now that there are more studies showing positive effects from playing video games.
In my house we have a Nintendo Wii, a Playstation 4, a Nabi Jr. tablet, a desktop computer, and an Apple TV device that we use for streaming shows, movies, and books. All the devices have the potential to play video games, but under my watchful eye I make sure that my children are learning from their experience and not wasting their brain cells. My preschooler absolutely loves the Nabi Jr. tablet as he is slowly learning how to read, improving on his math skills, and getting hands on experience with some simple Spanish words. My first grader has outgrown the Nabi Jr. and has moved on to more exhilarating video games such as Mario Kart and Donkey Kong (both games I played as a child) on the Nintendo Wii. The Wii is unique in that the controls require hand-eye coordination since the player has to move the controls as if they were real life actions. There are still too young to attempt the Playstation 4, but they find enjoyment by watching me play and by cheering me to win against my unlucky opponents.
Currently there is a new wave of athletes, commonly known as “cyber athletes,” who are coming up through the ranks and competing live on televised events while garnering millions of dollars for marketers and gamers alike. Cyber athletes are being sponsored by actual professional sporting clubs so that the athlete could represent the organization via gaming tournaments and promotional tours. For example, football clubs in the Premier League have hired eSports teams so that they could represent clubs while competing in Fifa tournaments. eSports is gaining popularity fast and it is only a matter of time when people are tuning in to witness their favorite cyber athlete compete in a championship tournament, with young children finding new role models to look up to and idolize.