Habits for Teen Thriving

Empathy

Feeling what others feel, imagining how they view and think about situations, and using
that knowledge to guide your actions.

Science of Empathy

Babies come into the world with the wiring to be empathic.

As our brains develop with age, we become more capable of understanding other perspectives.

Empathy can bring up strong feelings that may need to be managed. Empathy for a single person can blind us to the plight of a larger group or bias us towards people who are like us. Some argue that a sense of justice for all is more important than feeling what others feel.

Empathy is a building block of compassion and altruism, but it’s not the same thing. Some people believe empathy is just about feeling and thinking, not about being motivated to help. Others argue that wanting to do something with empathy is a key part of what makes it powerful.

Empathy & the teen brain

Teen brains are changing in ways that make them especially interested in their social surroundings and how the world works.

Teen brains are still developing in areas related to perspective-taking.

Some teens become too distressed or consumed by others’ feelings and need to learn self-awareness and self-care instead of greater empathy.

Some research suggests that puberty corresponds with a temporary decrease in males’ (but not females’) ability to empathize with the feelings of others. Teen boys may especially benefit from meaningful experiences that develop empathy.


How can games support the development of empathy?

In games, teens may get the chance to act from different points of view.

In games, teens may learn to see others’ perspectives as valuable currency.

In games, teens may expand empathy by inhabiting difficult circumstances.

In games, teens may explore empathy by making choices that impact others.

In games like Never Alone, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, and Stacking, teens can switch from one character to another. This lets them see the same world through many eyes. They might viscerally explore and appreciate each character’s unique perspectives and ability to move the action forward.

ADVANTAGES FOR TEENS WHO PRACTICE EMPATHY:


Better Social Problem Solving


More Helpful To Others


Better Relationship With Friends & Partners

Want to Know More?

Interested in designing games with empathy? Check out our Designer Guide here:


Curiosity

Seeking out new knowledge and experiences for their own sake, embracing uncertainty.

Science of Curiosity

Curiosity activates the regions of the brain related to pleasure and reward.

When we are curious, we pay closer attention, think about information more deeply, and remember it better.

Putting effort into understanding new things helps our brains build more and stronger connections, creating larger networks of knowledge and laying the foundation for mastery and wisdom.

Curiosity gives us a dose of that feel-good dopamine, making it a reward in itself.

Curiosity & the teen brain

Teen brains are especially sensitive to rewards.

Teens are driven to take risks that broaden their understanding of the world and their ability to navigate it independently.

Teens need self-directed opportunities to express their curiosity and explore to their imagination’s content within safe boundaries.

Teens are exploring and experimenting with their identity, and games are one safe place to do this.


How can games support the development of curiosity?

In games, teens may experiment with many social roles, interactions, and identities.

In games, teens may explore the far reaches of the “real world” or discover the secrets of fantasy worlds.

In games, teens may experiment to create new and amazing things.

In games, teens may solve mysteries and navigate worlds with surprising rules and laws, encouraging them to learn and adapt.

Nancy Drew series: A series of point-and-click mystery adventure games. Players interview characters and search for clues to solve the mystery at hand. Bonus: Depending on which game from the series players choose, they might learn about topics like physics and electricity or become more familiar with other cultures as they play.

ADVANTAGES FOR TEENS WHO PRACTICE CURIOSITY:


More Satisfied With Life


Have a Greater Sense of Purpose


Experience More Positive Emotions

Want To Know More?

Interested in designing games with curiosity? Check out our Designer Guide here:


Growth Mindset

Believing that skills and knowledge can improve as a result of hard work, using different strategies, and actively seeking feedback and help from others.

Science of Growth Mindset

Practicing growth mindset actually changes behavior and improves performance.

Like muscles, our brains grow when they are challenged—they form new and stronger connections between neurons.

It is normal to have a mix of growth and fixed mindsets in different areas of life.

Thanks to neuroplasticity, our brains are capable of change at any age. Otherwise we couldn’t learn anything new.

Growth mindset works best when combined with effective learning strategies and feedback.

Growth mindset & the teen brain

Teen brains are more “plastic” than at any other stage of life besides early childhood.

Teens should dare to try new and challenging things to see how far they can stretch and “grow” their brains.

Teens should know that their efforts change the brain, and it’s easier to change the brain now than it will be later in life.

During adolescence, connections that are used a lot strengthen and become more efficient, while those used infrequently are pruned away.


How can games support the development of growth mindset?

In games, teens are more willing to try new things and take risks.

In games, teens get immediate feedback and may see the value of mistakes.

In games, teens may see visual reminders of the growth they have achieved.

In many video game genres, including platformers like Super Mario Bros and Spelunky, teens get immediate feedback on their actions. Unsuccessful actions, like errors in timing, often result in virtual lives lost and the immediate opportunity to try again, using different strategies

ADVANTAGES FOR TEENS WHO PRACTICE GROWTH MINDSET:


Better Motivated


Seek Out More Difficult Challenges


Perform Better Academically

Want to Know More?

Interested in designing games with growth mindset? Check out our Designer Guide here: