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How to Choose Appropriate Video Games for Your Children

Video games have a steady presence in our lives and especially those of our children. While there are benefits of playing, there is a great need to show caution and keep a close eye on the games our children choose to spend time on.

What Benefits Come from Playing Video Games?

When used in moderation, and with good discernment, there are many developmental benefits for your child is playing video games.

Socialization. Video games create an opportunity for your children to bond with their peers, whether it’s online or together in person on a home console.

Cooperation. Certain games require that players collaborate with one another to reach their goals.

Logic, Reflexes and Logique, and Spacial Memory. Video games require quick reflexes and decisions, as opposed to slower-paced board games. This develops strong senses that are essential in pursuing science studies. 

Memory and Problem Resolution. Video games put your children through different circumstances, requiring creative initiative to solve their quests.

Perseverance. The objective of a video game is to complete levels, sometimes more than once, in an effort to achieve the objective. This encourages your child to persist long enough to reach their goal. This can often transfer into real-life instances. 

Educational. Many video games are built-in sequences, the same sequence we use to learn everyday subjects. This can be a motivating factor and encourage the brain to love learning.

What Dangers Exist When it Comes to Video Games?

Video games are not without risk, whether you are a child or an adult. Keep your eye on the games your children play and how or who they interact with, taking action when necessary.

Bad Behaviour. Many video games dull your child’s conscience when it comes to violence and encourages violence as a suitable way to solve problems. Some games misrepresent or make light of stereotypes of both women and various nationalities. Make sure your children’s video games are in line with your values, having a positive influence on your kids.

Predators. Many online players use the game platforms to engage in inappropriate conversations with children and even with the intent of sexual abuse. If you are unable to supervise your child when they play these games, be sure to minimize their friend list to those you personally know and trust.

Lacking Exercise. Even if your child wriggles about while playing their game, it is not enough to replace actual physical activity. Video games are passive. Make sure that your child receives ample opportunity to be physically active every day.

Poor Sleep. Blue light generated from screens reduces the brain’s natural levels of melatonin, making it difficult for your children to fall asleep. Limit the amount of screen time at night and eliminate screen time prior to bed.

Isolation. Some children who suffer from anxiety or are dealing with issues can easily lose themselves in their video games. It is your responsibility as a parent to ensure your child learns to deal with problems head-on. 

Addiction. There is always a real danger of your child growing dependent on their video games. Stay aware of your child’s habits and reassess when necessary.

How Can I Choose Good Video Games for My Children?

How can you choose appropriate games for your child? There are a few things you can consider.

Read the Description. Video game descriptions are pretty detailed. Look at the title, look closely at the images, and read the goal of the game. You should be able to gather a decent idea of what the game entails.

Verify the Rating. The bottom corner of the game’s cover will have the rating for that particular game. It will clearly show whether or not the game I sage appropriate as well as give a warning of adult content. Here is a list of three ratings commonly found on video games, taken from PBS.org.

eC : (Early Childhood) Titles rated EC – Early Childhood have content that may be suitable for persons ages three and older. Titles in this category contain no material that parents would find inappropriate.

E : (Everyone) Titles rated E – Everyone has content that may be suitable for person ages six and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal violence, some comic mischief, and/or mild language.

T : (Teen) Titles rated T – Teen have content that may be suitable for person ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violent content, mild or strong language, and/or suggestive themes.

M17+ : (Mature) Titles rated M – Mature have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain mature sexual themes, more intense violence, and/or strong language.

Ao : (Adults Only) Titles rated AO – Adults Only have content suitable only for adults. Titles in this category may include graphic depictions of sex and/or violence. Adults Only products are not intended for people under the age of 18.

RP : (Rating Pending) Titles listed as RP – Rating Pending has been submitted to the ESRB and is awaiting final rating.

Do Your Research. Don’t stop at just the cover. Look at the demos and marketing before you buy the game. Read the reviews. You can even lookup gaming blogs or search in google for the name of the game. 

Play With Your Kids. Once you have the game, why not play it with your child? Not only will it give you time to bond with your kid, but you will also be able to personally judge the value of the game.

Manage Your Child’s Time Spent on Video Games?

Once you have chosen appropriate games for your children, how can you manage the amount of time they spend playing them?

Use Parental Controls. Game consoles and platforms offer parental-controls to limit playtime, functions concerning text, and content limitations according to age.

Establish Clear Rules. Once you buy a game, or even before, be sure to clearly outline and discuss house rules about time spent playing video games.

Ideal Placement. Your child should never play video games unsupervised. Place the console in the living room or kitchen, a central area that you are often in. You will be able to supervise your child while they play, talk about their game, and even make suggestions. This will help you manage time spent playing.  

Don’t Allow Headphones. While headphones relieve you of the stress and sound of video games, it isolates your child in their play and you will not be able to supervise who they associate with online. 

Understand Game Dynamics. Spend time with your child while they play, either playing with them or watching them play. You will better understand the logic of the game and know when your child can reasonably save their progress. 

Limit Play Time. Children between the ages of 5 and 11 should spend no more than 2 hours a day in front of screens. (tv, computers, phones) Game time should be limited to 1 hour a day. It’s up to you to establish house rules for your own family, be reasonable. Warn your child in advance that their time is almost up. Make sure they have time to save their progress to avoid frustration. You can get more suggestions in this article for limiting screen time. 

Hold Firm. Once guidelines have been agreed upon, make sure you enforce the consequences when they are not upheld. Your child will learn to follow the guidelines and respect their purpose.

Get the Best Out of Video Games

Under the right circumstances, video games bring about good learning opportunities for your child. Make an effort to find interest in your child’s games. Why not pick up a controller and play with them? You’ll pass time together and your child will be happy to know you are taking in an interest in what they love.

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