I have two boys. My boys love video games. Sometimes I wonder if they love video games a bit too much. Then I remember what I was like as a kid. I grew up with video games; I was the first of my friends to have an Atari, and the first girl in my whole neighborhood to beat Super Mario Brothers (yes, it was a HUGE deal, and I still brag about it). I see the value in video games: they’ve improved my kids’ hand-eye coordination, brought them together in times of need (“I need your help attacking this robot Now”), and have even been a source of accomplishment (“We finally figured it out”). Yes, video games have a special place in my heart, and they always will, but I also recognize the importance of designating a limited space for them in our lives. After all, balance is important – and I have no desire to have zombified kids. Here are five tips for helping your children form healthy gaming habits:
A Time and a Place
The old saying, “there is a time and a place for everything,” applies to video games, too. The instantly gratifying nature of video games makes them the obvious choice – if you give kids a choice. Would you put desert on your child’s dinner place and say, “whichever you want?” I don’t think so. Specify video game time, and enforce it.
In addition to specifying designated video game time, you also need to be conscious of how much time you are allowing video game play. Instead of reserving video games “for the evening time, only,” be more specific: “only for one hour an evening.
Not only are video games a great source of entertainment, but they also have a number of other, more practical uses. Integrate learning and physical activity into your children’s gaming experience by purchasing education and exercise games (for the Wii or Kinect), and you can truly enrich your children’s minds and bodies without them even knowing it.
Video game ratings are there for a reason. Use them. Otherwise, what you feel is innocent game time could be harming your children psychologically.
Pay close attention to your children’s behavior, and how it relates to video games. If you find that all they can talk about is video games, or that they are rushing through homework, dinner, or other enjoyable experiences, in order to get to their games, then it may be time to take a break. Also, watch for personality changes that are out of character, as well as despondence, aggression, and the like. These could be signs that your children are being adversely affected by their video game usage.
Video games are not bad, even though they sometimes get a bad rap. They can actually be great for kids, if used the right way. The secret lies in finding balance and maintaining parental involvement.
Wilton Less understands the obsession his kids have with their games but stresses the importance of structure. When he’s not taking care of his children, he can be found studying UFX Markets Trading, day trading, and more.