“I don’t like you playing those games!” Said our parents. “They’ll turn you into an antisocial hunchback with no social skills!”. They were wrong, of course, but despite our best intentions it’s not uncommon for us to wind up sharing our parents’ anxieties when it comes to introducing our kids to the world of videogames. As with anything worth enjoying from fast food to Netflix, games come with certain caveats but used responsibly they can be a great way for you and your kids to bond with some surprising educational benefits. If you or your partner have your reservations about sharing your passion for gaming with your kids, allow us to set your mind at ease…
Games are not necessarily bad for kids’ health
Many parents are worried about the adverse effects of too much gaming on their kids health. It’s true that excessive gaming can result in health concerns such as poor posture, repetitive strain injury, inactivity and obesity most of these ill effects are caused by the excess rather than the gaming itself.
In fact, games are proven to aid concentration, cognitive faculties, short term memory and creative problem solving skills.
Games can result in happy memories
You no doubt cherish your gaming memories of yesteryear. Whether you were a digitized Italian plumber rescuing a princess from a giant barrel-throwing ape, a blue hedgehog with a thing for rings or a… whatever the Hell QBert was. These memories don’t supplant the time you spent riding your bike, hanging out with friends or fishing but they’re no doubt equally treasured.
While your kids’ gaming memories will likely be very different to yours (with all the HD confections of modern gaming) but they can still be the source of happy memories.
Games are the gift that keeps on giving
The prohibitive cost may put some parents of purchasing the current crop of games consoles for their kids, but it’s worth remembering that today’s games offer far more replay value than the 8 bit predecessors on which we cut our teeth. Nintendo card delivery means that kids can buy games via digital streaming but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Purchasing DLC can increase the lifespan of a game exponentially while usually still significantly cheaper than buying a new one.
Gaming should be enjoyed as part of a balanced lifestyle
It’s important that kids grow up seeing gaming as one avenue of pleasure in a range of different activities that form a balanced diet of indoor and outdoor play. Seeing it this way will prevent kids from fetishizing gaming. Instead they’ll see it as just one of a range of leisure options.
Gaming can (and should be a social family activity)
Finally, it’s important to remember that gaming is best enjoyed socially. Make a ritual of playing games together either co-operatively or in competition with each other. This will enable you to manage the time spent gaming as well as ensuring that content is wholesome and age appropriate.
The key component in this equation is responsibility. As with most things, parents are responsible for ensuring that games have a positive effect on your kids’ development and remain part of a balanced and active lifestyle.