In addition to being entertaining, video games can relieve stress, alleviate depression, improve vision, increase multitasking ability, and improve decision-making skills. Obesity, increased anxiety, low grades, addictive behavior, and aggressive or violent behavior have all been related to online gaming.
In the face of seemingly contradictory research findings, parents must first educate themselves about the games their children are playing, as well as the safety settings and features of the devices they are playing games on, and then use common sense to their children’s online gaming opportunities. Understand that what helps one child may not be the best combination for another.
What exactly does the term “video game” imply?
The phrase “video game” refers to everything from a basic game of Solitaire on your own to massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) with entire virtual universes where people interact with other gamers and transactions – generally points or game enhancements, but sometimes actual money – are involved.
Computers and laptops, mobile devices, gaming consoles, and, increasingly, phones and tablets are used to play video games. Some games are bought and installed on devices, while others are downloaded from the internet and are only played online.
Video games are popular among people of all ages: older women are the most likely to play simple single-player games; young men are the most likely to play “war games,” while massively multiplayer games draw people aged 8 to 80. Some games are informative, while others are horrifyingly violent and may contain graphic sexual content. However, many games are designed to be played in the same room with friends or family, and many of these are excellent ways for families to engage and spend time together.
Games are classified to guide parents and children in determining the type of content in each game.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) assesses video and computer games. It gives a rating system comparable to film ratings so that parents may make more informed decisions before buying a game.
These ESRB ratings include two parts: 1) symbols that suggest suitable ages for players and 2) descriptions that assist parents in understanding what factors went into the rating score. To use the ESRB rating system successfully, you must consider both factors. Examine the rating symbol (located on the front of the game box) and the content descriptors (on the back).
Identify the capabilities and security aspects of gaming devices.
Today’s gaming consoles include family safety options (commonly referred to as parental controls) that permit parents to set time limits, block unsuitable games, and select whether players can interact with only their friends or any other gamer at all. Precise guidelines for configuring these settings can be found on the game console’s websites, or you can read A Parent’s Guide to Video Games, Parental Controls, and Online Safety.
To set the same limits on computers, utilize the built-in family protection tools or parental control software you install yourself. Handheld devices also have control options, and one to be aware of is whether you allow Bluetooth connections that allow others to communicate with your child via this type of gadget.
Keep in mind that if the game is played online and allows players to engage, the safety settings and controls do not monitor the conversations within the games. While most talks will be appropriate, some people may decide not to act appropriately. If your child interacts with others, talk to them about the possibility of bullying, cheaters, and too-nice people (or other grooming behaviour). Many online gaming sites are specifically geared toward young people, with content moderators checking discussions. These might be the best options for you.
Tips for a Healthy Gaming Experience
Consider your child’s maturity and age and the games they like to play.
After studying the ESRB ratings and content descriptors, do the games appear to be a good fit for your child? If there are adult gamers in the house, children may frequently desire to play the games they see being played rather than those that are appropriate for their age group. If the game being played by older children is inappropriate, they should not be seeing their siblings play.
Examine the gaming devices that your youngster will be using.
Are your child’s safety settings in place? Do they correspond to his maturity level and assist you in establishing appropriate boundaries for the types of games allowed, who they are allowed to engage with, and the amount of time/times of day they can play? If not, make these safety settings before your youngster begins gaming.
Discuss proper gaming with your child.
This discussion is critical because it establishes the context for understanding and teamwork required for successful gaming. Discuss the safety settings you’ve implemented, the types of games that are appropriate or improper, the time limits, and the necessity of maintaining a balance between online gaming, friends, activities, and school. Tell your child that you will monitor their gaming, mainly if it includes discussions with people you don’t know, to ensure that they are respectful, aren’t revealing too much information, and so on.
Please mention that you will support them with any problems they experience, such as cyberbullying, cheating, or other inappropriate activity, by using the sites’ report abuse functionality. Let children know that any incorrect action on their behalf will result in quick penalties; lay out the consequences for failing to follow the family’s or website’s standards, so they are transparent in advance.
Set time limitations.
Gaming is addictive by nature, with users eager to advance to the next level, get the next point, or seek the next, and it’s easy to lose track of time. Finding the right amount of time can be a balancing act. Still, some basic guidelines could be that no gaming is permitted until homework and chores are completed, that gaming is permitted on weekends rather than school nights, and that two nights per week are designated technology-free nights in your home. Suppose your child’s gaming device (console, laptop, phone, or computer) is in their bedroom. In that case, it is especially vital to set device time limitations to eliminate the temptation to play after bedtime.
Keep track of the websites they visit.
Because many games are played online through a computer that isn’t detecting the fact that it’s a game being played, it’s crucial to analyze your child’s browser history to see whether playing time has gotten out of hand.
Have fun with them.
Recognize the games they’re playing and join in on the enjoyment. This will not only provide you with a terrific method to bond with your child, but it will also provide you with insight into what is going on in the game.
Read more: Why Is the Gaming Industry Booming?