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?
Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:
Melissa Antolovic says
We have entered the gaming world yet but we’re thinking about a ps4 as a Christmas present this year for my almost 7 and 5 year olds. Knack sounds like a very good choice of an appropriate game to start with.
I think the first rules I’d be setting are going to be related to time limits, sharing and what other tasks need to be completed before being able to play.
In our house it’s the husband that Needs help monitoring the time spent on the gaming console and to encourage him to get off, I usually send the kids in to annoy him!
I find that with our son it helps that my husband and I take interest in the games he plays and play alongside him, this also encourages better game choice, interaction and understanding. So that’s my tip, play with them sometimes, it only has to be for a short period of time, they love it, and you might also find you enjoy it too ?. I also find when I say it’s probably time to finish up he has less trouble switching off than if he was playing on his own.
We have a 10 year old & 6 year old, according to the 10 year old we are very strict with gaming time – home work first, nothing after dinner, nothing before school and after 9am on a weekend. The are aloud to used their iPads during the week, but the gaming console is only for the weekend and only if an adult is present.
We have reinforced the idea that you can save your game and come back later but fear of missing out makes it hard to stop playing sometimes.
Jade O says
I have a harder time getting my partner off the games than I do the kids. Now no one is allowed to touch it until all of their homework and chores are done and they get an hour each. We also have it set up in the family room so they can’t stay up late playing games. The same goes for their ipads etc. Everything stays in the kitchen on the charger and I wake up and they are missing…. LORD HELP THEM!
Maybe the best way to help kids manage video games is to join them when they play. It stops it being something they do away from you as a parent, and makes it an activity they can enjoy with you. Hopefully it also means you can be a good example to them, and show them, instead of telling them, time management. Play a bit together, and make a point of stopping and saying ‘I have to load the dishwasher now’ or something similar. I think this can help kids see you can have fun playing the games, without it meaning the rest of the world stops.
Joining them to play also means you can ask what they’re thinking during the game. How will they approach the challenges? How will they cope when there’s a hard puzzle?
I hope my kids will sit and talk their way through their games with me. As a bonus it could also open up those little conversations we love so much but can be hard to get going. As a dad I’ve learnt questions like ‘how was school today?’ can often get a one-word answer and then they move on. Spending time doing something together like this will hopefully let us relax and have those little chats where I hear more about what happened at school, all those little wins and losses in a day.
I think there’s a lot of positives in playing video games with kids, and Knack 2 looks like it has a good balance of puzzles and action for us to tackle together.
Jacqui cleary says
I have a 13 year old son that is turning 14 and would love a new PlayStation in November my concern since the first PlayStation 3 was bought for him when he was 10 was time spent playing so we came up with a rule no video games durning the week and have to play a type of sport and have to have steady grades at school I’m not sure what the best solution is but this works well in my house
Limiting usage and setting time limits and only when they finish their homework. Approach it as a privilege and a reward. Counterbalance screen time with time outdoor as alternate both giving a balance from physical exercise and virtual world wanting to foster creativity and activity. Some games have educational and creative value keeping their brains active and being creative so both are ideal.
My son (9) has a hard time with self regulation, so we are installing a WiFi enabled power strip that we can control from an app. He gets a five minute warning to wrap up the game play and then if he doesn’t turn it all off as asked, power is shut down remotely. He also earns points for household chores and can cash them in to “buy” screentime. He is learning the value of time as money and that we enforce the rules.
Gaming is lots of fun,
After all chores are done,
You can play for a set time,
I have a timer app that chimes,
When it rings the games go away,
No more until the next day!
Dannielle Watters says
I find a way to help my kids is to play with them. Then its a family time. Knack 2 would amazing. No Violence.
Michael king says
Moderation is the key.. Sports.. Homework.. Chores.. My son loves going online and he has made a great bunch of friends..he wants me to win so we can go online and play against him.. He’s such a great kid.. We would love to win
We have yet to own a gaming console, but when our kids have used one, we have sat there with them. I think for us, the best idea is to leave the console in a public, high traffic area of the house. We believe that bedrooms are a restful area and don’t want any electronics (like computers, phones or gaming consoles) in them.
Sandra Kaponits says
Simple rules need to be put in place
To keep a smile on everyone’s face
Gaming can be a lot of fun
For the kids, dad and everyone
But make sure to take a break
Give those hands and feet a shake
Take time out to unwind
And refresh your body and mind
Sorry left a comment without leaving a comment and maybe it sums us up! As have been game console free up to now so no history and no rules yet but we have iPad time and I often think a game console would actually be more socialable, you can play together rather than solo. We have done the dance off at friends and loved it. As for rules I think we would start with using it for family games and then maybe introduce a time one ……………… and once the kids are asleep ……………..
The easiest way to get Mr 7 off the PS4 and iPad is waiting until the remote/device goes flat ? he’s usually too impatient to wait around for it to charge, so goes and finds something else to do.