Jun 29, 2018

3 Big Lessons You Can Learn from Kids' Video Game Addiction

Are you a fan of video games?  I am.  I've played ever since the first Atari Pong game came out in 1972.  Most of my video game playing is now done on my phone.

There is something about video games that draws kids (and adults) in.  What is it that causes kids to spend hours upon hours playing video games?  What is it about video games that make them so addictive? 

In a recent disease classification manual, the World Health Organization said that compulsive video game playing now qualifies as a new mental health condition.  Proponents of the classification say this doesn't mean every child who spends hours in their room playing games is an addict.  Most video game addicts are usually teenagers or young adults.  In some cases, kids even drop out of school because they are so addicted to playing the games.

Researchers say when people with a video game addiction play the games, pathways in their brains are affected like a drug addict is affected when they take drugs.  Games prompt a neurological response that influences feelings of pleasure and reward.

When it gets to the place where video games are interfering with normal functions of a person - things like studying for a test, doing homework or even job responsibilities as a young adult, then it's time to get professional help.

Whether you believe video games can be addictive or not, there are some lessons we can learn from the pull video games have on kids.  What is it that makes video games so appealing to kids?  What is it that causes them to spend an entire day playing?  What is it that has them playing games on a tablet or phone when they are in the car, in the store or every other place there go?  Let's talk about it.

#1 - Kids love a good challenge.  Most games have a challenge built in for kids. A level that has to be beat.  A treasure you have to find.  A mystery that must be solved.
 
I'm afraid many times we hesitate to challenge kids spiritually.  Think about it.  Are you challenging kids to take a step coming out of their time at church on Sunday?  Are you challenging them to memorize the verse of the month?  Are you challenging them to apply what they learned? 

And many times we hesitate to challenge kids to get involved in the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible reading, meditation, application, etc.

I have found that when you challenge kids to step up, they will respond and do so.  I can think of many instances where they did.

I remember the school crossing guard who came to church on Easter Sunday for the first time. Why? Because we challenged our kids to invite people to the Easter services.

I can remember when a child led the way in giving toward a new building campaign.  He asked his parents not to take him on vacation, but rather to give the money to the building campaign.  Why?  Because we challenged the kids to give. 

I can remember when a girl went to visit her native country of China with her adopted family. She took a small New Testament and gave it to a taxi driver.  Why?  Because we challenged kids to share their faith.

Take a cue from video games and challenge the kids in your ministry.  They will step up to meet the challenge.  They're just waiting for you to issue a challenge. 

#2 - Kids enjoy going on an adventure with a friend.  Kids have a different perspective than most of us when it comes to video games.  Whereas we grew up playing in isolation or occasionally with a sibling or friend who was spending the night, today's kids see video games as a social activity. 

With the rise of the internet, came the rise of kids playing video games with friends online.  Xbox has been a major leader in this.  Kids can hear each other and see their friend's game character on the same screen as their own character. 

From this we see kids' needs to connect, interact and bond with other kids.  Friendship matters to kids a lot.  And one of the big ways they make friends is through shared activities.  This also gives them a common subject they can talk about with each other. 

Make sure you're giving kids an opportunity to make friends through activities, games and team building exercises. We know today' kids long for personal connections.  A game is a great way to break the ice and give kids opportunities to make connections.

#3 - Kids love competition. Another big reason kids love video games is because it places them in competition with other kids.  You can do the same thing by having competition with review games.  Competition with Bible verse games.  Competition with offerings for missions.  Competition to see who can listen the best during the lesson. 

Competitive games can instantly take the energy and excitement level of your ministry to a new level.

So, there you have it.  3 takeaways from kids' video games.  What do you think?  Should we incorporate ideas from video games into our services?  Should we challenge kids?  Should we give them opportunities to compete?  

Share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below

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