This week, PCA and Cloud9 joined together to host the webinar entitled, “Can eSports Teach Life Lessons?” It was an open discussion all about the gaming culture and coaching or parenting young gamers using social-emotional development skills. PCA’s Marti Reed and Cloud9 Training Grounds Director, Samir Bolar, moderated the conversation and were joined by amazing panelists Dr. Rachel Kowert, Research Director of Take This, Jorrel Batac, Director, Scholastic Fellow Program NASEF, Sue Thotz, Senior Program Manager, Common Sense Education and co-founder of Equity in Action CA, and Larry Miljas, a parent advocate.
Check out the full replay, and our top 5 takeaways from the conversation:
1. "WHEN IT COMES TO CHILD SAFETY ONLINE, PARENTS MUST BE INTENTIONAL, BE PRESENT, AND HAVE FUN." –Dr. Rachel Kowert
Parents can be intentional by previewing the content that their kids are viewing to find out what it’s promoting. (What is the language, representation, positive role models, etc?). Be present by playing with them, asking them who they are playing with, or have them play with the audio present through the speakers. And have fun—games are meant to be a fun learning experience for kids and should be a great way to engage with your kids.
2. "KIDS ARE SPENDING MORE TIME ONLINE, AND ESPORTS IS A GREAT WAY TO BRING DIVERSE KIDS FROM DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS TOGETHER WITH CORE-VALUES-BASED PROGRAMS TO ULTIMATELY FOSTER DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP AND COMMUNITY." -Sue Thotz
A common misconception is that gaming culture is antisocial when it is actually quite the opposite. ESports provide the ability to cross ages, sexes, socio-economic status, cultures, and personality types to meet new people and build relationships and friendships across the world. You learn to trust others and get to know them while working together to win matches.
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3. "THE VALUE OF COACHING TIES DIRECTLY INTO YOUTH DEVELOPMENT FOR GAMERS." -Samir Bolar
Coaches should be trained to teach life lessons about honoring the game through respecting teammates and opponents, the ELM Tree of Mastery (giving maximum Effort, Learning and Mistakes are OK), and filling the emotional tanks of the “athletes” during their youth gaming experience. Coaches should model the type of behavior they want to see, use mistake rituals to help kids bounce back after mistakes, and show kids they care. Kids will feel more valued and supported through positive relationships with a caring coach.
4. "PARENTS DON’T NEED TO KNOW ALL OF THE RULES OR EXACTLY HOW TO PLAY THE GAME, BUT PARENTS CAN AND SHOULD STILL BE INVOLVED IN SUPPORTING AND CHEERING ON THEIR CHILD’S GROWTH AND LEARNING EXPERIENCE AS GAMERS." -Larry Miljas
Many parents have never played a video game, but they can still get involved with their child’s eSports experience. Talk to other parents, spend time asking your kids about their experience- What do you like about this game? Are they having fun? What do they enjoy learning? Try to play with them once in a while and constantly work to fill their emotional tanks and let them know you are proud of the work and effort they are putting into their experience.
5. "ESPORTS PROVIDES VARIOUS LONG-TERM COLLEGE AND CAREER OPPORTUNITIES BEYOND PLAYING THE GAMES." -Jorrel Batac
The gaming industry as a whole provides many opportunities for future growth and career development, such as content creation, coaching, strategy, event management, business development, etc. Some athletes are interested in streaming and not even playing the game. Whatever type of gamer your child may be, there are multiple frameworks and a huge ecosystem of college and career pathways that students can explore in eSports.