As a parent or guardian, you're always on the lookout for opportunities that engage, challenge, and grow your child. From recreational sports to after-school programming to musical and artistic training, there are plenty of domains that offer beneficial experiences for children. However, in a rapidly digitizing world, the need for participation in activities that build technological savvy and best practices is key. That’s one of the many reasons why the esports industry is developing into such a popular, lucrative field.
As esports leagues continue to permeate the collegiate and college levels, there is a growing need for esports coaching for younger gamers. This offers a variety of learning and social benefits, in addition to providing a safe, supervised space for online play. Here’s everything parents need to know about the esports space before they learn how to join esports for their children.
Esports and Youth Development
The explosive popularity of esports isn’t just confined to the entertainment, gaming, and social media industries. Academic institutions and research firms see this massive consumer market as the perfect opportunity to uncover important insights surrounding cognition, psychology, education, informatics, and sociology. Adolescent and children’s esports leagues represent a particularly important segment for parents looking to prepare their children for an increasingly digitized future.
Cognition and Learning
School attendance is by far the most crucial component of a child’s cognitive growth, but that still leaves lots of extracurricular time for learning, skills development, and creative experiences. For current and future generations of youth, becoming comfortable with new technology is another addition to the list. That’s why children’s esports leagues are so important.
Researchers are currently investigating the ways in which video games impact education, cognitive development, and numerous other learning-related outcomes, including:
Introduction into STEM-relevant fields like computer science, software development, and engineering design
Improvements in tasks involving memory, attention, and high-level cognition
Offering students an alternative avenue to learning, in the case of developmental and cognitive disabilities.
The past few years have seen numerous post-secondary and collegiate institutions adopt esports programs to encourage productive gaming experiences. While initiatives aimed towards younger students are still few and far between, there are promising industry developments that offer educational and social development.
As a parent, properly socializing your child is arguably as important as providing them with a strong education. This can be challenging at the best of times, but now COVID disruptions and the insertion of digital media into all facets of life are making the process even more difficult. Social media and online gaming are becoming particularly problematic as youth are increasingly experiencing harassment, cyberbullying, and other predatory behavior while exploring the online space.
Children’s esports leagues and other structured online gaming environments provide a platform where kids can interact with one another while participating in activities that they enjoy. The traditional barriers of sports participation are also absent in esports programs, meaning youth from various different cultures, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, ability levels, and geographic location can all socialize with one another. With globalization on the rise, esports provides the perfect platform to foster a generation of open-minded, tech-savvy professionals who flourish in both online and physical environments.
Popular Age Appropriate Games
One of the biggest concerns parents have when learning how to join esports for their child is finding an age-appropriate game that still provides the complexity necessary for growth and collaboration. Generally, one of the best resources to turn to is the Entertainment Software Rating Board. This regulatory body evaluates games and applications to determine end-user suitability, then applies and enforces their criteria to ensure game developers and advertisers follow. The ratings are easy to follow and span from E for Everyone to M for Mature.
It’s important to recognize that video games with an E rating may still be difficult for your child to play, especially when it comes to online competition. For instance, NBA 2K20 and Madden NFL 20 are both suitable for players of any age, but the online competition is incredibly strong. In order to build up your child’s gaming skills, there are more suitable entry-level games. Particularly, Rocket League and League of Legends.
Rocket League: Everyone
Rocket League is one of the best options for parents looking to get their kid into a children’s esports league. This Psyonix product is free to play and involves an age-appropriate combination of arcade soccer, demolition derby, and team play.
League of Legends: Teen
League of Legends is a free multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) product from Riot Games in which individuals create a character and work in teams to destroy an opposing team’s base. While this game does include some mild suggestive themes and fantasy violence, it is lauded as one of the most popular MOBA games for strategy and communication development.
Achieving Safe Play
At the end of the day, the top concern of many parents is finding a way for their kids to participate in an online gaming space where they will be free from toxic behavior. Although some companies are taking steps to combat cyberbullying and harassment, the reality is, similar to social media platforms, esports is very difficult to regulate from the top down. That’s why children’s esports leagues represent the perfect way to foster a safer, enjoyable gaming experience for youth.
Leagues developed specifically for youth and divided based on skill and game preference offer a much safer introduction to the esports world than the typical sink or swim approach. Esports coaching, another promising practice in these leagues, provides young gamers with positive role models and mentors that teach everything from skills development to respectful gameplay to effective online communication. This perfect combination of oversight, skill development, and social interaction is exactly why children’s esports leagues are so crucial to the development of healthier gaming culture.
To learn more about esports coaching and leagues that provide a safe, enjoyable option for your child to grow their digital skills, reach out to Vanta Leagues today. Our model is designed specifically to remove cyberbullying and toxic behavior from within the online gaming space, while also encouraging children to explore their options in a rapidly expanding esports industry and, of course, have fun!