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Healthy Online Gaming for Children

Video games are not just fun, but also reduce stress, help with depression, train a person’s ability to multi-task and improve decision making. Of course, there are negative effects too, because video games are linked to obesity, addiction, increased violence and aggressive behavior. Parents have already learned about the downside of online gaming and seen it firsthand. Safety settings and common sense have been applied already, but now we need to talk about how to let children play in a calm and positive manner, so that it will not affect them in a negative way. Here is a list of healthy tips.

  • The age restrictions on games are not just for fun, they are written for a reason. You also have to consider if your child is mature enough to play certain games. The Entertainment Software Rating Board evaluates games and makes suggestions at what age the games are suitable for children. Of course, if parents or older siblings play a game, naturally, younger children want to play them too, but they do not fit in the appropriate age group. To avoid a situation like this, do not let children under the suggested age watch people playing those games because they will be even more drawn to them, when they know they are not allowed to.
  • Check the safety settings of the devices that your child is using to play games. Do they match their age and help set necessary boundaries? With who are they going to interact while playing? Is it adults or just children of their own age group? Configure them properly and try to check them every time before letting your child play.
  • Talk with your child about the games they play, it’s crucial to do that. It’s the same conversation that you have about not talking to strangers, in this case kids will not be able to avoid interactions with people from all around the world, but talking and explaining is a big help in keeping your child from getting catfished. Let them know what is appropriate or inappropriate, also let them know that you will be checking them periodically on their gaming and conversations that they are having online. And explain that you are doing this to make sure that they are not sharing too much information about their family, location and etc, and that they are respectful too.
  • Explain to them, that you are going to help if they encounter cyber bullying or other behavior that does not comply with the functionality within the gaming platforms or websites. Let children know that they have to be fair and take responsibility for their actions online, just like in real life. That involves bullying other players, cheating and breaking the rules or abusing other people.
  • As a parent, you have to set the limits for it not to become an addiction. Just simple guidelines like time of the day, how long a child can play and what needs to be done to earn that play time can get them to have a routine and teach them about time management and responsibilities. If they have a computer or a gaming device in their room, you have to set a time limit on the device, as to not let children play before their bedtime or while you are sleeping.
  • The most important thing is to monitor the websites that children are visiting. There are many inappropriate advertisements even with adblock or parent settings cannot fully overcome.

Spend more time with your child and play with them. It will not only give you an insights on how your child is acting online but give you bonding time.