Online gaming has become one of the most popular ways for children to play, but it can also be a concern for parents or a source of tension within families. The following guide can help you and your children agree on positive ways to game.
Get your children to talk about the healthy aspects about the games that they play. As a prompt, ask about specific elements often found in gaming, such as learning new information, teamwork and strategy. If you’re game savvy yourself, it might also be helpful to talk about specific aspects of games that you think are positive.
Now ask them if there have ever been times where gaming makes them feel bad or causes conflict with family or friends. Have they ever encountered bullying or threatening language while playing a game? This is also a good time to talk about feeling 'left out' if they don’t play a certain game or if they have to log off before finishing a level.
Talk about ways gaming can benefit your children when done in a balanced way. Maybe gaming can help them improve at a sport because they understand the strategies and rules more completely. Maybe it can help with hand-eye coordination or reflexes. Or maybe it can inspire an offline activity with their friends.
Gaming comes in many different forms – some may be more positive than others. To understand the nuances of your child’s games better, try playing as a family.
Many games can now be played against other people (including strangers). Consider this in relation to your child’s level of maturity and ability to judge who they should be engaging with.
Natasha Bhuyan, MD
“When your child is involved in a game or online activity, join them and do it together. What can you learn together?”
Put family game nights on the calendar and experiment together with different kinds of games. Some nights can involve digital gaming (choose something that the whole family will enjoy) and others can be non-digital games (think crazy golf, impromptu football or simply a deck of cards).