Just as in the animal kingdom, play forms an important part of our development from a child into an adult. Puppies and kittens play fight to learn combat and survival skills for possible real fights with other predators. Thankfully humans don’t have that survival requirement anymore, but we still play as part of our evolutionary path.
So why are conditioned to enjoy playtime so much? The author Nathan Lents lists 7 potential benefits of play:
1.) Play for establishing social rank
2.) Play for learning social rules
3.) Play as practice.
4.) Play to establish motor coordination.
5.) Play as social bonding.
6.) Play for managing stress.
7.) Play for developing certain cognitive and creative skills.
Number 7 is the crucial one for a child’s development. Playing games (including video games) is one of the activities that can help in the overall development of our brain functions. It requires a wide variety of skills including critical thinking, planning, analysis and problem-solving.
For children, it is important to have a broad range of play activities. Video games should have their place as part of a good mixture of physical and virtual play activities. Where possible, parents should also encourage their children to try out with strategic games as well as more common action and reflex games.