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Here's 9 surprising benefits of gaming for the whole family

Gaming can be a great way to learn new skills and bring people together. We asked Mumsnet users to share their personal experiences and examined expert research to bring you some impressive benefits to gaming.

By Tina Williams | Last updated Oct 12, 2023

Benefits of gaming as a family

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The number of hours spent gaming is a contentious issue in almost all family households. Many of us are concerned about how much is too much when it comes to screen time. It can be easy to look back with rose-tinted glasses at our ‘supposedly’ screen-free childhoods and wonder – are all these screens having a negative effect on our families?

Thankfully, the world of gaming has developed and expanded tremendously over the past decade, and research has shown that it can be a great way to bring families together, learn new skills and help to spark curiosity in the world.

So, we took a look at the latest research and asked Mumsnetters to share their experiences on the impressive benefits of gaming. Here's nine surprising benefits of playing video games for the whole family.

1. Gaming can help to build social skills and good habits

Many of the popular app-based or online games people play today aren’t designed to be played in isolation. They help users build friendships with other players and reward those who are working collaboratively. Games can be a great way to bring family and friends together, whether they’re living in the same house or not.

Games can also play a very positive role in the development of social skills. They often require teamwork, good communication and they reward pro-social behaviour. All great lessons that can then be used in the real world.

What Mumsnet users say

"I think gaming can be such a lovely way to spend time as a family. We've got some great games, and have a fab time playing them." misskatamari

"When we play games together [we] are constantly interacting with one another, which is nice, and we find it [good for] bonding, which sounds cheesy." Cherrytangfastic

2. It improves problem-solving skills and creativity

All games require users to learn rules and develop new skills in order to achieve the set objective, whether that’s figuring out where to make your next move or seeing problems coming and dodging to get out of the way.

Several studies have found that these kinds of games help players to develop important problem-solving abilities that can be transferred into real-life situations. Plus, the sense of accomplishment is something that often goes unmatched.

What Mumsnet users say

"Games teach you many lessons - teamwork, resilience, resourcefulness, thinking outside the box... The best thing is, children think they're just having fun messing about playing games, they don't realise they are learning crucial life skills." HarrietsChariot

3. It can increase concentration

Family gaming and its benefits

Playing a game encourages the whole family to turn their focus towards achieving a specific goal. This practiced concentration has been shown to improve our ability to filter out irrelevant information and concentrate on the relevant parts of tasks in real life too.

What Mumsnet users say

“[Games] are fun, soothing and (depending on the game) allow the mind to decompress. They help with problem solving and strategising. They provide opportunities to socialise and bond." LizzieVereker

4. Gaming can support learning and spark interest in new things

Lots of mobile, online and console-based games open users up to new activities, hobbies and habits, from painting and gardening to good behaviour like taking out the rubbish. Fantasy worlds can spark real-world learning conversations too.

For more serious gamers, gaming academies can be an educating experience for children and parents alike, where they can learn about their favourite hobbies and undertake structured learning through gaming.

What Mumsnet users say

“I work in games software development for a living, so I have an open attitude to gaming for my 6 year old. He is developing creative skills through an amazing range of games I could only dream of at his age." ritzbiscuits

"[Gaming has] allowed me to visit countries I could never afford in real life, meet wonderful characters, explore gorgeous worlds, make friends and be part of communities." DoTheNextRightThing

5. Gaming can improve vision

Yes, that’s right. In a 2009 study, scientists found that 50 hours of action-packed game play (spread over 10 to 12 weeks) improved the gamer’s ability to distinguish subtle differences in shades of grey. In other studies, it’s been found that gaming can improve eyesight in lazy eyes, more so than other types of concentrated activities like watching TV or knitting.

6. It helps to develop hand-eye coordination

Whether you’re on a phone or using a console, games that require real-time movement require fast reflexes. This kind of reflex practice can help players develop better hand-eye coordination. Some studies even show that gaming can improve performance in surgeons.

What Mumsnet users say

“They play loads and it's fantastic for hand skills, social skills, and develops deep friendships with all their school friends that play." Oblomov20

7. It helps to generate positive feelings and emotional resilience

Gaming with your children and its benefits

Contrary to popular belief, gaming has regularly been shown to reduce stress and increase positive emotions. In fact, some scientists go as far as saying that gaming is one of the most efficient and effective ways to generate positive feelings.

What Mumsnet users say

“His gaming friends include a gym owner, a fashion buyer, police officer and politician. It is really good if people can talk about things that interest others." janetmendoza

8. Playing virtual games can help develop understanding of the world and improve vocabulary skills

The variety of games available offer families the opportunity to learn about other people, cultures and languages in a safe environment. It can help you understand and celebrate differences, as well as boosting vocabulary along the way.

What Mumsnet users say

"It's also helping them get ready for the next age, which is likely to be based around computer technology." planningaheadtoday

9. Gaming can improve memory

How do you get a character from one place to another? Where in the house did you leave that skateboard? When we play games, we’re constantly training our brains to memorise new functions and new routes. This activity can help memory recall in other aspects of life too. So whether you're eight or 80, it’s a great chance to keep your brain active and engaged.

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