Most teenagers play computer games. This can drive parents mad with frustration, especially when their teenage child is not focusing on other things such as school work and household chores. What if I told you that there are valuable life lessons that can be learned from playing computer games? Amazing, I know!
I discovered this recently when chatting to my teenager about the amount of time she spent on gaming. Defending her actions, she bemoaned “But Mum, you don’t understand!” That’s true – I just don’t get it. She continued, “I can’t just give up! I am working to reach the next level, where I will be rewarded”. I looked at my teenager, full of enthusiasm, motivation, and a desire to win. It was rare to see these traits.
As a coach, I was interested to see how the motivation and the reward behind gaming could be applied to every day life. Here is what she told me:
“When I’m gaming, I’m the one making all the decisions. I’m in control and I like to be in control.
It’s challenging. If I can see the point to a challenge, I like it, and these challenges have rewards as I progress in the game.
I choose to do it. If I have to do something because I’m to it makes me feel like a child.
I live with the consequences of my actions. If I drop down a level I can’t blame anyone else – it’s my fault.
When I fail it makes me determined to find a better way to do it next time so that I can succeed.
I can see my skills in the game improve, and I enjoy a sense of achievement when I get to the next level, which motivates me to continue.
When I win, my self-confidence rises.
It’s sociable – I can meet new people online who are also playing the game and talk to people who have the same interests as me.”
I have to say my daughter’s answers took me by surprise. I did not expect them to be so succinct or thought through.
I then questioned myself – why was I surprised? After all, she is a young adult testing her way through life just like the rest of us.
This exercise was a timely reminder for me – a reminder that my kids have been raised in a different technological environment to me and that doesn’t mean that one is right and one is wrong, it is just different and we both have to learn to adapt. How we both manage it and try to understand each other is what matters.
Most parents want their teens to be confident and independent enough to flee the nest when the time is right. This discussion helped me to realize that now is a good time for me to start letting my daughter spread her wings. Allow her room to experience disappointment and delight.
To avoid arguments and grow closer to your teen, talk to him/her regularly. Use your teen’s interest in sport or art or any hobby or pastime to ask them why they do it and what they get from it. They will be thrilled that you are interested enough to ask and you will get an insight into how they tick. Like me, you may be pleasantly surprised. You can then use those answers to do some goal setting together, which includes schoolwork and household chores!
My daughter and I now have our own fun communication signals that we use to get our individual message across, whether that be ‘I need help’ or ‘leave me alone!’