After playing a video game at a friend’s house, your kid has not stopped bugging you to allow him to play video games on your phone and/or laptop.
You’re this close to caving in to his demands but you still have qualms about allowing him to play video games. What if they’re bad for him?
Are video games bad for your child?
You are not alone in having fears that video games might be bad for your growing child, especially over the long term.
What if he becomes addicted to this type of gameplay? Will it cause him to become anti-social? Will it cause him to lose interest in his studies?
The general consensus among experts is that video games are a type of play and that, overall, play is good for the development of children.
Furthermore, experts point to numerous studies when explaining that there is no conclusive evidence to support ideas relating playing video games to acts of violence. On the contrary, these experts see video games as a form of release from pent-up stress.
What your kid can miss out on
If video games are not bad, are they still a waste of time?
No. In fact, video games provide numerous cognitive benefits to young ones, just like how physical play can develop a child’s physical development.
Here’s a quick glimpse of the different benefits offered by video gameplay:
Contrary to what some people may believe, playing video games is not a passive activity. Apart from manually controlling your character in the game, you have to engage your other senses, especially your sense of sight and sound.
Playing video games can help both old and young players improve their memory. For one, you have to remember the keys designated for a particular movement. And then you have to remember the game instructions.
Problem-solving skills development
Many video games require players to complete tasks in order to attain certain achievements or to move to the next phase of play. This, in turn, requires players to use different facets of thinking to solve the problem at hand.
Quite simply, you cannot progress in practically any game if you are distracted. Video games help develop a player’s concentration by requiring him to pay attention to what is happening on the screen.
At the same time, most games challenge players to think on their feet, to process information quickly and decide fast.
Managing game time
Many of the perceived drawbacks of gaming, including the potential of making players addicted, can be easily counteracted by effective management.
If you want the best of both worlds — the benefits of playing video games and minimizing the side effects, perceived or otherwise — here are a few tips that can help.
Choose games that are age-appropriate
You wouldn’t want your kid to watch an R-18 rated film, would you? The same thing applies to choosing games.
There are tons of games available to players of differing ages and skill levels. For younger kids, among the best games to play are Minecraft and Lego Worlds.
If you played games yourself when you are young, you might want to introduce them to him. That way, you’ll both enjoy the game you play.
Set time limits
The American Academy of Pediatrics has released recommendations about how much screen time should be allowed for kids.
According to the guide, children below the age of 18 should not play games on any platform.
Children aged five and below can play for an hour daily. As for children aged six and above, there are no clear guidelines on how much screen time they should be allowed to have. However, for most experts, an hour and a half of playtime is reasonable.
Be firm but gentle
Now, the real tricky situation here is how to tell your kid when his playtime is up. The simple answer to this problem is to agree to a set amount of time, and for parents to strictly impose those limits.
It would also be easier for kids and their parents to follow this simple tip by using an actual timer that children can see. And instead of simply stopping children from playing when the allotted time is up, parents should give their children ample warning that their playtime is about to end.
A five-minute warning is enough for a child to make the necessary actions in a game before stopping play.
Put a premium on safety
If your child is fond of playing games online, you have to teach him about the basics of online safety.
These include not talking to strangers, not sharing passwords and other personal information on public platforms, and avoiding the installation of any kind of software without your permission.
Not just about play
In order to get the most out of playtime, parents should acknowledge that video games can be both beneficial and fun.
Try watching your kid play. Or better yet, play with or against him and his peers. You can even count play time as bonding time between you and your child.
Just remember to set down rules, gently enforce them and find appropriate games to play.