Esports at a young age: the pros and the cons
Long gone are the days when video games were seen as a malign influence on youth. The interconnected nature of our modern world makes it much easier for parents and teachers to understand the benefits of gaming.
The long-distance relationships and the soft skills you develop over time, the rigorous planning and commitment required for an MMO raid, the practice and the effort to play a shooter at a high level and the systemic thinking required to perform well in a MOBA or a card game: they can all be harnessed at an early age. Much like chess, the time and effort spent on video games well and in good company can be a valuable developmental tool that goes a long way towards a child’s well-being in the future.
Enter schools and various esports-related opportunities which have started to crop up in and around the curriculum.
Esports in schools – more than just a fad
Research shows that esports increase attendance rates and GPA results, in a way similar to how traditional sports activities benefit an educational institution. At this stage, even the postsecondary scholarship pathways have been replicated in the virtual world.
Since most competitive gaming activities are team-based, it serves as a surprisingly good way to develop interpersonal skills as well, with the potential for a very rewarding career for the most talented players out there. Indeed, programmes and extracurricular ventures like Malta’s very own Level Academy’s SAFE program, which aims to “harness a student’s passion for video games to impart a responsible, professional, athletic and goal-oriented mindset”, show that tangible value is to be gained by pursuing these activities.
The simple fact that most students will no doubt be involved with gaming anyway makes it all the more logical to fit these after-school activities into a school environment. It’s little surprise there’s significant interest in them from the students’ side as well. Data gathered by Pew Research Center shows that over 80% of teenagers own a gaming system and 72% of them actively play video games outside of school. It’s no surprise the younger generation often spearheads these projects in their own schools.
The educational benefits of a school esports program go beyond these skills, too. From the institution’s perspective, this kind of offering can increase student retention and can even be a feather in their cap for recruitment purposes. It’s also fairly easy and cost-effective to set up on a basic level.
Though it can still be challenging to get buy-in for such projects on an administrative level, parents of students interested in the world of esports can survey a steadily growing field of opportunities, safe in the knowledge that the time spent in front of the screen is spent well and in a way that will prove to be useful later down the line, much like how bookworms of the past generation turned out to have done pretty well from themselves reading all the time instead of partying.