The Game of Life

Most Kids/Teens play computer games.  This can drive parents mad with frustration, especially when their teenage child is not focusing on other things like schoolwork or house chores.  What if I told you that there are valuable life lessons to be learned from playing computer games?

I discovered this recently when chatting to my teenager about the amount of time spent on gaming.  Defending her actions she bemoaned “but mum you don’t understand!”  That’s true.  I don’t get it.  “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.

I decided to talk to her about her motivation and the reward behind gaming. As a coach, I was interested to see how it could be applied to every day life.  Here is what she told me:

“I like to be in control.  When gaming I’m the one making all the decisions”.

“It’s challenging.  I like a challenge if I can see the point to it”.

“I choose to do it.  If I have to do something because I’m told to, I feel like a child”.

“I live with the consequences of my actions.  If I drop down a level it’s my fault, I can’t blame anyone else”.

“When I fail, it makes me determined to find a better way to do it the next time”.

“I see my skills improve”.

“I enjoy a sense of achievement when I get to the next level and that motivates me to continue”.

“When I win, my self-confidence rises”.

“It’s sociable”. (really?)

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 also a timely reminder to me 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.   How we both manage it 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.

Communication is the key.  To avoid arguments and grow closer to your teen maybe you could use your teen’s interest in sport or art or any 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.  We 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!

Posted in Choices, parenting, teenager and tagged , , , , , .

Anne McKeown