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Top Talker: Can A Video Game Teach Social Skills? (POLL)

Creative Commons/aperturismo

Creative Commons/aperturismo

Top Talker:
Can A Video Game Teach Social Skills? (POLL)

We know that technology has taken over the world. Just like adults, kids depend on it in ways we never would have imagined less than a generation ago. From learning how to cook to learning how to code, there’s an app for that.

Many parents download apps for their kids for entertainment and education. Now, kids can learn social and emotional skills on an iPad.

A new tablet game for 6-12 year olds called IF was recently released. The makers of the game hope to help kids manage their emotions, cope with stress and conflict, and even deal with bullies. IF is made by a new company, If You Can, started by the founder of Electronic Arts. Perhaps you’ve heard of them? They make another pretty well-known game called Madden NFL.

Trip Hawkins, the founder, had this to say to Slate: “Everything I’ve done in my life has led to this. I see problems like global warming, and my generation can’t fix that, so there’s a lot of guilt and shame. The only way to fix things in the future is to raise children with different values.” He thinks IF can be part of the solution. This same Slate article is worth reading because the writer talks about the results of her 11-year-old son playing the game.

Related: Teens And Technology: Are You Fostering A Learning Environment?

While I think IF has the potential to be a useful tool, my fear is that some parents might rely too much on games like this to teach life skills that can only be learned in, well, real life. Of course, we talk to our kids about human values and how to behave, but they have to go out into the world and experience conflict, setbacks, and stress in order to apply those skills. Also, because every situation is unique, what works today in one place might not apply tomorrow somewhere else. The only way kids can learn these things is to live them.

Another issue I have with the game is that it’s a game. I have no problem with games. I think every human being should spend time every day playing a game that’s interesting and engaging. I wonder if kids will really get the connection between this fun game and the not-so-fun realities of life. With all the variables of actual sticky situations, it’s not always easy to do what’s good and right. But it is easy to choose the right answer on a game, especially once a kid figures out what they’re supposed to say. Yet, there is a huge difference between being able to give the right answers and internalizing and applying what was learned.

I like that young kids have a chance to practice social and emotional engagement with a game, but I think they would be better served by doing the same thing in the classroom, on the playground, and in athletic activities—basically, with other people. I would buy the app for my 7-year-old daughter, but I would be hyper-aware of her need to get out and get with people.

Related: Our Story Begins: Technology Free Summer.. Why We’re Doing It And Why You Should Too!

What do you think? Can a game teach social and emotional skills? Would you buy this game for your kids? Take the poll and share your thoughts below.

[polldaddy poll=”7856830″]


picmonkey alexis

Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is managing editor of Good Enough Mother. Read more about Alexis on her blog or follow her on Twitter @LillieBelle5. You can email her at alexis [at] goodenoughmother [dot] com.


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