Maybe you love electronic games as much as your children do. Still, as a parent, you may wonder about how to set appropriate ground rules.
The good news is that games may be more constructive than you think. A recent study found that children who played for less than an hour a day appeared better adjusted than those who played no games or played for hours on end. Learn how to raise children with healthy gaming habits.
Benefits of Video Games for Your Kids
1. Develop friendships. If you associate games with isolation, think again. Most gamers compete with partners. Pikmin and Farmville offer your child plenty of ways to connect online and off.
2. Strengthen family ties. The most important connection may be the time kids spend with their parents. If your child is a Super Mario fanatic, you could work on saving the Sprixie Kingdom together.
3. Manage stress. Simple games are ideal for a relaxing break. Indulge in a few moments of Words with Friends.
4. Enhance thinking skills. Games also strengthen many cognitive skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, and working memory.
5. Stimulate creativity. Super Mario is bringing out the artist in your child. The interactive nature of games provides a workout for the imagination. Your son may carry that innovative thinking over into his math homework.
6. Prepare for future careers. Those shooter games could be a gateway for an engineering career. They develop spatial skills essential for studying science and math. Likewise, games heavy in text count as reading practice.
Setting Gaming Ground Rules for Your Kids
1. Agree in advance. As usual, it’s more effective to decide on overall guidelines before your child starts asking for the latest hot game. Explain your reasoning and be consistent.
2. Consult ratings. Each game has a rating on the package indicating the appropriate ages and the nature of content you might find questionable, such as violence or strong language. For more information, visit the Entertainment Software Rating Board website.
3. Activate parental controls. Most gaming systems have options just like the V-chip on TVs. Your kids may be able to find ways around them, but they’re one way to block some content.
4. Establish time limits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends up to two hours of total screen time a day. Find a schedule that suits your family.
5. Enforce a curfew. Make the hour or two before bed an electronic-free zone. Bright lights and intense activity interfere with sleep.
6. Stick to your budget. You’ve probably noticed the high price tags on many games and consoles. Turn shopping for games into an opportunity for financial education. Your child may want to work for extra money they can spend on games or figure out how to prioritize their purchases.
7. Encourage other activities. Children thrive on sampling a broad range of activities. Take your kids on outings to the library and local history museum. Make your house a welcoming spot where they can entertain their friends. Sign up for a family gym membership to ensure regular physical exercise.
8. Seek professional help. Gaming in moderation is an entertaining and enriching activity for most people. However, there are signs that you may want to monitor. Does your child play for many hours a day or lack interest in other things? Gaming can also sometimes contribute to anxiety and depression. Your doctor can recommend effective treatments if needed.
Enjoy fun and games. By setting sensible limits on your children’s use of video games, the whole family can reap valuable psychological and social benefits. A little time in the Lego universe could help your child to make friends, succeed in school, and feel happier.