This post is sponsored by PlayStation Australia
We got our first game console years ago when our kids were little. We bought it for us adults, not for the kids, and for years my husband and I were the only ones who played it. But as the kids got older, as they learned to read, and when the dancing games became a thing… then my kids were hooked!
These days all four of our kids love the to play video games and we were recently sent a brand new PlayStation 4 to check out, and it’s awesome!
Lots of parents worry about how much time their kids spend playing video games and what that might be doing to their brains. With all the articles and research about how bad excessive screen time can be for kids it’s almost impossible not worry. But there are lots of positive things about video games.
I’m not immune to the worry, or the guilt, but I’m trying to keep a balanced view, because that is what I want for my kids, balance.
Plus I really do not want to be the game gatekeeper for my children! The idea of having to track game time and constantly enforce rules with begging whining children does not fill me with joy.
But my kids are not brainless zombies, I trust that they can enjoy video games without it becoming a major problem. But just like pretty much everything else in life, I need to teach my kids how to do that, I need to teach them how to enjoy gaming in a healthy and balanced way
Managing Video Games – Ten Things Kids Need to Know.
I didn’t really think through the whole video game thing before we ventured into that world, but dealing with this stuff for the past few years I have learned a few things, and I have taught my kids a few things too.
Here are the ten things kids need to know about video gaming so that they can learn to manage it, and enjoy it.
Kids need to know what the expectations are, and what values are important to your family. Have a discussion about how your family feels about gaming and ask the kids for input on how to manage it before you bring the games console home.
Kids need to be able to understand, remember, and apply rules and limits. Keep the rules simple and to the point. Our rules are – no gaming on school nights, ask before you play, and we will agree on a time frame before you start.
Kids need to know how to choose good games, and what the limits are on game choices. Talk with your kids about why some games are not appropriate, or why you think one game is better than another, or why you think a game might be good or not so good for them. Use a site like Common Sense Media if you need help making game choices.
Kids need a way to monitor how much time they are spending on gaming. Using a visual timer so they can see how long they have left can be really useful.
Kids also need help to make good decisions about gaming time. A discussion about how much time they have left in the day and what other things they need or want to do will help them learn to think ahead and how to manage their time better.
Kids need to know that video games are just one of the many awesome things they can do. They are no better or worse than reading a good book or playing outside, so don’t use them as a reward for doing those things. Read more about not using screen time as a reward here.
Most consoles can connect to the internet these days, so kids need to know what the limits are on internet use, how to manage privacy, and how to interact online. Parents – you need to know how to restrict or control internet access!
Kids need to know about the marketing tricks that are sometimes built into games and how to address them. Teach kids that some games are designed to go and on and make you feel like you have to keep playing forever, but you can use the save feature to get around that, to save your spot so you can walk away and come back later. Teach kids about how advertising works, and how it can make you feel like each new game is something you have to have, or that you have to be playing this game or you are somehow not cool. Teach them how to think critically and make good personal decisions about gaming.
Kids need to know when they need to take a break. Talk to kids about what things might indicate that they need to take a break – if the game is making you feel angry, if you are fighting with your siblings over the game, if you are getting worried about having to stop playing. If you can help your kids recognise these signs then they can begin to learn to self-regulate.
Kids need to know that games are not bad, that they won’t rot their brains, and that it is not adults vs them and the games. Join in and play with your kids, it’s a great way to connect with them, and it will help you understand why your kids love games, and help your kids see you as someone they can talk to about gaming, rather than a nasty timekeeper.
What is your best tip for helping kids manage video gaming?
Do your kids play video games? How do you manage them without guilt or worry?