Video games. They’re a source of fun and excitement for kids of all ages. But they can also be a source of stress for parents. Worries about screen time top the list, and online gaming has given parents even more to worry about.
Despite these worries, there’s no denying that playing video games can have some positive perks for both kids and parents. The trick is for parents to balance these benefits with potential hazards and these words of advice from Change for Kids can help them do so.
Eliminate Extra Stress
Letting your kids play video games is a good way to keep them occupied while you work from home. If you’re sharing an internet connection and a cramped space, however, you could be setting yourself up for more distractions than productivity. Start reducing these potential stressors by making sure your home’s WiFi connection is strong and reliable enough to handle multiple users. Fiber-optic connections are available in most major cities, and this lightning-fast service will result in smoother gaming for kids and better remote work experiences for parents.
If sharing space is your main concern, setting boundaries will keep your kids from distracting you during the workday. Set physical boundaries by setting a dedicated office space in a spare room or by using dividers to split up a room in a small home. You can establish less tangible boundaries by balancing set routines with the right amount of flexibility. Let your kids take a brain break and play video games from time to time but set rules around that playtime.
Reinforce Positive Behaviors
Gaming can be a worthwhile hobby for children because it can teach them how to solve problems and how to play fairly with others. Even so, the potential for meltdowns and problems is always present. To counteract these issues, be sure to step in and offer praise whenever your children demonstrate positive gaming behaviors. Maybe this means letting them know you’re proud of them when they show empathy for virtual team members? Or perhaps you can provide encouragement when your kids need to resolve an online conflict?
However you proceed, know that supporting positive choices your children make can have a major impact on their development and self-confidence. Programs that advocate for social-emotional learning, or SEL, can help children develop more empathy, emotional regulation, impulse management and self-control, and parents can help boost these effects at home.
Be Aware of Potential Dangers
Regardless of the potential benefits of gaming, parents should also be aware of common risks. Some of the top dangers children can face when gaming online are:
- Online harassment and bullying.
- Cyber attacks and data breaches.
- Online predators.
You can assess these risks by monitoring gaming, but talking with your kids about online dangers tends to be more effective. Create an open dialogue so that your children feel comfortable talking to you about red flags.
If you think your child is being bullied online, being able to discuss incidents with them is important. Be willing to listen to them talk about their feelings and concerns, and be prepared to help navigate problems. It may also be prudent to seek advice and resources from your pediatrician or even a licensed counselor.
Set Reasonable Limits
Apart from online threats, it’s also crucial for parents to understand the impact that screen time can have on their kids’ health and well-being. Doing so can be easier said than done, however, when even experts are still trying to figure things out. What they do know is that young children should have the strictest screen limits. In fact, the WHO recommends zero screen usage for kids 18-24 months and no more than 1 hour each day for children 2-5.
For older kids and teens, you can use your best judgment to set limits around gaming and screen time. Using a family media planner like this one from the American Academy of Pediatrics can make setting boundaries around all types of digital media less stressful.
There’s no reason why gaming can’t be simple and fun for kids. As long as you set clear boundaries and expectations, you can ensure your children have a safe and enjoyable experience.
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