We hear so much in the media about how bad gaming is and how it’s terrible for our children. There are even lawsuits against the creators of Fortnite for creating a game that is TOO addictive. But is gaming really bad for kids?
As with most things though, it’s not the games that are the problem. It is improper management and use of the games that really cause issues. There are many games that can even bring your family closer together!
Parents need to do their homework
The first thing that parents should do is research the games their children want to play. The ESRB has an amazing database of information about every game! They not only rate every game with an easy to read label, like E for Everyone or M for Mature, but they also describe the game in great detail.
This resource should give you most of the information you need to make an informed decision about whether or not to purchase a particular game for your child. As a gaming family, we get pretty annoyed at parents who don’t think twice about purchasing a mature-rated game for their child and then complain about the impact the game has on them.
Parents should play with their children
Even if you don’t enjoy gaming, you can still enjoy playing games with your children. The Nintendo Switch has a great library of family-friendly games like Mario Kart, Mario Party, and Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. It doesn’t just have to say Mario in the title though to be a great game the whole family can enjoy.
Fortnite can be played across different platforms so you and your child can play online together in the same campaign. Getting involved with something your child is interested in can really help them know that you care about the things that are important to them.
One of our family’s favorite games to play together is Jackbox. We love playing the various board games included in the Party Packs. Drawful, Fibbage, and Tee-K.O. are so good. We get together and play these during family reunions and the entire family loves to play!
Set limitations on kids gaming
Another problem I see that can lead to inappropriate use with gaming is parents who don’t set limits on games. When kids are allowed to play video games at all hours, real problems and addictions can start.
Make sure to set the parental controls that are built-in on the various gaming consoles or computers have been configured. Again the ESRB site is a great resource that can help you set up these parental controls.
Definitely set time limits that will only allow your child to play for a specific amount of time a day. They can earn additional time by doing extra chores or other activities. You should also set up a “bedtime” for the gaming system so it can’t be used late at night.
As you can see, as long as parents get involved, gaming can not only be entertaining for your child, it can actually help bring your family closer together! Next time your kid is playing a game, ask them questions about it and why they love that particular game. You may feel reassured that gaming is not all bad for kids. Or, you may soon find that you love gaming too!
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Sarah Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 16 years of her career as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com