Playing games like Minecraft, Roblox, and Pokemon online can help kids develop social skills and friendships. Sound contradictory? For those of us who grew up with Tetris or Super Mario, computer games might seem solitary and isolating. The games most popular with today’s kids though are social networked and collaborative. In fact, this recent research paper pointed out that games such as Minecraft have been commended for offering skills development opportunities, including positive social behaviors like trust, empathy, cooperating, turn-taking and helping. We’re all trying to help our kids develop those positive traits!
Our programs are designed to incorporate those aspects of play, and it’s good to have parents tell us how much their kids are benefitting socially. We recently read hundreds of parent reviews of Connected Camps programs on Outschool. One of the themes that emerged was how much kids love our programs because we offer a safe and welcoming space to build friendships with others that have similar interests.
Connected Camps co-founder Katie Salen wrote this blog post about how the right kind of gaming helps kids become socially well rounded. She points out the pluses of playing games that incorporate cooperative play. She also discusses how kids benefit when they can develop and test out their online social skills in a welcoming environment like ours.
Safety is an important aspect of our programs. Most of our programs are taught with Minecraft, using a custom server. Kids use text chat and voice chat to communicate, share their work with others in real-time, and collaborate on projects designed to fuel their imagination and build skills.
Linda, a parent whose son joined our Survival Club in Minecraft, said, “My son loves this class. He’s met a nice friend who shares his interest in Minecraft and he finds the teacher really nice. I would recommend this class to any parent who is looking for a safe space to communicate with other like-minded Minecrafters.”
Our programs offer a safe space, and also one where kids can find others who share interests and passions.
Ann’s child participated in a Survival Course in Minecraft and built bonds with others too: “This is a great camp for kids who love Minecraft. The world was a lot of fun and they were able to make new friends.”
Amanda’s daughter joined the Pokemon Sword & Shield Camp. She said, “My daughter is a Pokemon fanatic, so it was really fun for her to be around others who felt the same way! She learned new strategies and was very engaged!”
Crystal said, “My son had a great time creating and playing games with other kids in this class. He looked forward to it every day 🙂 .”
Especially given the past year of physical isolation (and the possibility of more this fall), it’s great to see kids connecting and playing with others. This CNN article pointed out that, “In spite of the stereotype of the socially awkward pale gamer, games are a good way to socially connect… video games allow us to maintain friendship bonds in a multifaceted way. There’s collaboration and competition around a shared activity.” The story said that “research has suggested that friendships — deep human connection — can be created and sustained through online play. Also, it’s fun, and fun matters for our overall well-being.
”This year, more than ever in our history, we’ve seen kids in our programs wanting to stay connected with their fellow campers after a series ends. Counselor Emma leads several Connected Camps programs. She described this recent experience, which is mirrored in many different camps and with a variety of sets of new friends:
In my theater camp, I had two students who were a bit shy in opening up to one another. During the part of camp where we rehearsed lines with each other, the two started to hit it off and realize their common interests in building sets and writing scripts. It’s even more interesting that they were able to become friends, as one of them lived in Europe and the other in America! Both also had a passion for writing scripts and playing on roleplaying servers outside of class, so they talked about it during our last few sessions. On our very last session, they declared to me that they’d really like to connect with each other outside of our Connected Camps programs, so I obliged and asked the support team to contact their parents directly* and let them know. They were having a lot of fun, even going so far as to sit on a [virtual] boat together so that I could take a screenshot of them in the theater set that they collaborated on. They both shared common interests related to the theater camp, and it took off from there!
As you’re looking for programs to fill those last few days of summer break, or activities to keep your kids meaningfully occupied after school and on weekends, look no further than Connected Camps! Not only will your kids develop tech skills and learn about a variety of topics, they’ll have fun and build lasting friendships. Check out our line-up and find something that suits your family today!
* Participants share screen names but contact details are kept private for safety reasons, unless all parties agree to have the adults connect outside our programs and want to share their info with each other.