The Parent Trap…
With the holidays fast approaching, we all as parents face the extra added dilemma of how to entertain the kids on a budget and finding something that keeps the whole tribe happy before returning to school.
The temptation on those rainy days and days when you just really need to do the housework and tackle the growing ironing pile is to let the kids amuse themselves. Now in my childhood this meant running around a field with friends getting into trouble for coming home muddy; however these days, not wanting to really let the kids out of our sight, this can mean them choosing to spend all day wired to a video console playing FIFA’s next challenge or Minecrafting.
These noisy yet seemingly seductive things are on computers, on smartphones and tablets, and on expensive consoles that your kids will tell you everyone else has. In truth they are everywhere. And if you’re not buying them for your children, your children are probably playing them elsewhere.
Although most parents would be quite happy if their child’s computer gaming was limited to educational programs, the reality is that the computer games children play are primarily for pure entertainment, not for education.
Keep in mind that when children play age-appropriate computer games in moderation the research generally indicates that little (if any) harm comes from this.
However, there are some children who play excessively, who refuse to do anything else, and who make gaming the number one priority in their lives. These children may be addicted to computer games and their parents are rightfully worried about this problem.
This may seem a strange thing for an HR company to be blogging about. However we get the unique opportunity to go into schools and talk to the kids about their thoughts for their next steps and career aspirations, and even to have just basic chats about what they love doing. It amazes us every time we help with career days etc in seeing the effects computer gaming is having on students and therefore future employees.
It has been well documented over the years that children addicted to computer games are developing less social skills and find it increasingly difficult to interact with their peers, as well as adults, on a large scale. It can seem as though they sometimes prefer to escape into the virtual world rather than having real social, interactions with people. And statistically it’s more of an issue for boys than girls (see this report from the Pew Research Centre).
Children can struggle with some of the very basics of social interaction, lack of eye contact for instance, unable to hold a meaningful conversation and sadly unable to convey or having any real idea as to what interests them beyond the next game.
This is a new problem for our generation and the effects are just starting to show in young adults coming into the world of employment. Employees looking for new recruits and expecting and wanting someone fresh from school full of enthusiasm, are becoming increasingly frustrated at the apathy gaming can create, and whilst many studies are continually being done the true effects won’t become apparent for a while.
Whilst Gateway as a company has previously helped many an individual on advice and help in prepping for their next big interview, we are now looking more and more towards helping school leavers practice the art of showcasing their personalities – not just for upcoming interviews, but for life in general.
So what would be our main advice for students and for parents to support them? With less people going to university thanks to the frankly frightening cost, competition for entry level jobs is getting tougher. It is not enough to “simply” have great GSCE and A Level grades; these are great but what employers want is people with a passion to do a good job and to learn. Employers looking to employ school leavers know they cannot expect lots of experience, but those with more than school on their CV or application form stand out a mile – in a good way.
So, think about encouraging your children to get a part time job. Not only for the extra spending money, but also to show they can be responsible, manage their time and learn new skills. What else can children do to demonstrate the qualities that employers want? You might want to look into whether there are opportunities for your kids to do some volunteering to show different skills and a commitment to others. For example, being a leader or a helper in Scouting or Guide groups shows leadership and organisational abilities at a young age; both very sought after skills. Or coaching little ones at a swimming, football or rugby club will give kids the opportunity to develop and demonstrate their communication and mentoring skills, and even to inspire younger ones to perhaps do the same when they are that bit older.
Finally, your children’s school might be interested in Young Enterprise: www.youngenterprise.org.uk which can be really impressive on a school-leaver’s CV. At Gateway, our best entrant level team member was sourced straight from an award winning Young Enterprise team by our very own MD who was so impressed that she offered her a job, as soon as she finished school.
If you would like to find out a bit more about the work we’ve done with schools, or how we can help anyone – of any age – with their CV and interview skills, then please do get in touch.