Kids Love Gaming, Parents Not So Much!
Do your children want to start gaming? There’s no need to worry — it might even be fun!
Talk to most parents about their frustrations around raising children and the issue of screen-time is usually high on the list. Our children are growing up in a very different world from the one we grew up in…
Where I may have watched the Sunday night movie or an occasional documentary film at school, today’s children are inundated by screens. Many studies suggest that screen-time is negatively impacting our children and, it’s worth taking heed. We need to let our children know about the dangers. I also feel that screens — in all their different guises — are here to stay.
It’s with this in mind, that I share what has worked for our children. They are tech savvy and love their games. They also love school and learning, music and reading, spending time with friends, helping out in the kitchen and playing sports. There may have been times during lockdown when things tipped out of balance, but all-in-all, they’re learning to manage their screen-time. It’s up to us as parents, to start the conversation and make sure that we raise children who are mindful and intentional in all that they do…
PlayStation Gaming (6–10 years old)
Our boys started their gaming days at the tender ages of 6 and 8. They found an old PlayStation belonging to my husband and, as they say, the rest is history! I do not understand the appeal of gaming, but appeal it does… Fortunately my husband understands the impulse! He taught the boys how to log on, how to look after the games, the controllers and the PlayStation itself.
A couple of benefits…
He also pointed out a couple of benefits to allay my fears. First of all, he was intentional about the games he chose for the boys. They started with the Lego games which are all two player games. This means that children can partner up and work together with a sibling/ friend/ parent to play the game. Both players need to be within range of each other during the game. There are many puzzles and challenges that can only be solved together.
This does wonders for communication and solving problems together. Ensure short sessions for harmonious play! Also encourage children to consider solutions when they are not in the game. Give them some sentence structures to help move the conversation forward: “What would happen if we… How about we… Could we try…”
Still not convinced…
Even if gaming is not your thing, make sure you remain involved. You know the storylines and the characters (more or less…). Ask your children about their preferences: “Who is your favourite character? What do you like about them? Which character represents good? Which character represents evil? Which character makes you laugh?”
Ask about their feelings. This one is super important. It can open such interesting conversations. You could try: “How do you feel when you can’t solve a challenge? How do you feel if you mess up? How do you feel if someone else messes up? How do you feel about asking for help? How many times did you try that challenge?”
Games have a reputation of reducing children’s capacity to understand emotions, but I think it all depends on how we use our devices. As with most entertainment, we can ask ourselves the question: “Is this a distraction so as not to feel or engage? Why do I want this distraction? Am I okay with the response?” It’s about bringing an awareness to our actions and encouraging that awareness in our children.
Taking learnings into the real world
Another cool thing with gaming is the perseverance it takes to succeed. If there is something your child finds difficult to do outside of gaming — learning to ride a bike for example — remind your child of their capacity for persistence and remind them that they can try and try again until they have mastered the challenge.
My boys tell me that they are super dexterous as a result of gaming too. I look at their little hands and fingers moving at a crazy pace. I think they must be right! The hand-eye co-ordination is next level. On the rare occasion that I have tried to play, I feel like I have two left feet instead of hands!
Our boys have enjoyed many different Lego games over the years. Lego games appeal as they are based on the story lines of different movies like Star Wars or Harry Potter for example. This means that players engage with the characters and the storylines. They learn the names of all the characters and come to know the sequencing of events as they progress through the game.
Each chapter contains a challenge. Successful completion unlocks a new chapter and sometimes, new characters. Children can also explore the different worlds through a “map”. When they are old enough to watch the movies, they know so much already and understand the movie better for having played the games.
A family screen-time strategy…
So, that’s a starting point that worked for us. A screen time strategy can help too — half an hour before dinner / Sunday afternoon / whatever fits into your family timetable.
I hope you and your children have loads of fun gaming! Their world is different from the one we grew up in, but we may as well embrace it and give them the tools they need to make the very most of it all…