Video games and young people are a common encounter. I remember my first game and how excited about it I was. Parents can learn more about video games and how it impacts on children’s lives by reading this brief fact sheet.
What are video games?
Video games are electronic, interactive games that come in many forms: CDs, DVDs, internet downloads and online games. They can be played on a personal home computer (PC), television or portable hand-held device.
Is it ok if my child plays video games?
The safest way for your child to play video games is when you play together. This will ensure that they are learning from the game, and also give you quality time to have fun together. Here are some ideas to keep in mind when playing video games with your child:
- Set a limit of one hour per day maximum. This will ensure there is still time in the day for other physical and creative activities. Video games are also an effective reward for homework completion.
- Ask your child how the game works – this is the best way to engage in what your child is learning. You can also use this information to pick up on what your child is currently interested in, and broaden their knowledge of the topic through other means such as books and movies.
- Choose games that have learning value and portray positive messages. Ideally, games for kids should explore real activities, provide opportunities to take turns and play as a team, and involve decision making process to promote control and independence.
Benefits of video games
Video games can have benefits, but these are dependent on the content of the game, time spent playing the game and whether the game involves group play.
- Developmental benefits: hand/eye co-ordination, decision making and problem solving skills, multitasking and improved self esteem through mastery of the game.
- Social benefits: Learning to take turns, be part of a team and a sense of fairness.
- Educational benefits: Assist memory and processing speed skills, can incorporate curriculum-based material.
Problems with playing video games
Most risks associated with game playing come from prolonged use. Therefore, moderation of your child’s game playing is the key. Unregulated gaming may have the following effects::
- Obsessive behaviour
- Reduced capacity for empathy
- Increased antisocial tendencies
- Lack of physical exercise and associated health effects.