SHOULD I WORRY ABOUT MY CHILD’S VIDEO GAMES?
What Games Are Appropriate For Your Child, if Any?
By Megan Bailey
Almost all parents stress over the video games their child plays. Are they age-appropriate? Do they feature too much violence? Is my child playing too much? It can be overwhelming to try and find the right answers. Video games are a part of our culture today, so it is crucial to stay informed and with the times. Here is what you need to know about video games and how they can affect your child.
Violence and Other Content in Video Games
There has been a long-standing debate about whether violence found in video games triggers violence in the real world. Given the mass shootings in the United States, many have been quick to say first-person shooter video games are playing a part. The problem is no one is sure. Sleuths of studies have found there is a link between violence in video games and the real world, while other studies have not. One reason some remain skeptical is due to so many in other countries also playing the games, yet not having the same violence problems.
Additionally, many parents worry the games are simply too mature for young children to play. Even with the ratings on games, parents cannot always control what their children play while at someone else’s house. Are they being exposed to content that is too sexualized and shaping their brains negatively?
The reality of the situation: if you are worried about your child’s video game usage, you are already doing more than enough. It proves that you are engaged with your children’s pop culture life and want to interact with them. Your kids will grow up OK, even if they sneak in some violent or mature games from time to time. What is important is that you regularly talk with your children about what they play and pay attention to how they respond. It is about building a family culture where your child feels safe processing those games and coming to you when they need guidance and advice. Stay engaged with your children, and they’ll be alright.
Video Game Addiction
A growing number of parents are also beginning to worry about how much time is too much when it comes to video games. At what point does it go from a fun activity to something uncontrollable? Obsession with gaming consoles is a real problem that parents should be aware of; however, with some prevention tips, it is likely to stay controlled.
First, do not let your children start playing with video games or technology before they have too. The earlier the child is when they get a game in their hand, the harder it is to break those habits as an adult. It is like not feeding your child too much junk food when they are young to encourage healthy eating as they grow up. This includes making sure that the games are easily accessible all the time as they get older. Make sure to keep the gaming systems in living rooms and other common areas, rather than letting your child be the sole owner of it.
Secondly, do not use the video game as a reward. While it might sound enticing to offer your children 30 minutes of extra play in exchange for them to do their homework, it has some hidden long-term consequences. Doing so consistently will have them wanting to pick up the game more and more. Additionally, when they ask for “just one more level” or just a few more minutes, make sure to stick your ground. You might be thought of as the villain, but boundaries need to be firmly set in place.
Lastly, never ignore your gut. If you suspect your child is playing on the games too often, then act now, rather than wait until things potentially get worse later. You would rather have a fight with your child now and get them back on the right track, rather than have them thoroughly addicted and uncontrollable down the line. Sit with your child and set out guidelines about how much play is allowed each day, so that there is no confusion.
The Benefits of Video Games
Despite the possible problems your children can face with video games, there are several benefits to playing them. When parents choose appropriate leisure-time games, they can help children develop skills. Children play educational games on computers in school all the time. However, video games do not have to be labeled as educational games to help young brains grow.
First, video games can teach problem-solving skills. They will heave to search, negotiate, plan, and try different strategies to reach the next goal in the game. Additionally, players can customize their game character’s appearance and other factors, which helps give them a creative outlet. Video games encourage healthy competition and motivation to work towards new goals.
Secondly, video games can help children make friends and explore other cultures. Contrasting to what most parents believe, children and teens see video games as an essential social activity, not as an alienating one. This is done both online and in-person. Online, children will be able to play with people from all over the world. While interactions will need to be monitored based on age, it is an excellent way for children to interact with people they would not ever otherwise.
During these multi-player games, children also take turns being the leader and followers. Your child can learn what it takes to bring people together to achieve a goal or how to be a good listener. They work together to win. Video games can even bring your family closer together. You all can play together. Studies have found that children enjoy leading parents in video games and teaching them how to play.
Not all video games are suitable for your children, but not all of them are bad either. With additional research, you can pick the games that will help your children flourish. You do not need to be quiet so scared of them; they are an integral part of entertainment culture.