I used to love playing Super Mario when I was a kid! When it finally sunk in that I was having two boys I knew that they would probably like playing video games as much as me.
But how do you set appropriate ground rules?
This is when I sought out my good friend Google.
A study found that children who played for less than an hour a day appeared better adjusted than those who played no games or played for hours on end.
So there is a happy balance for playing video games. But that line is pretty fine. Because there are other studies that show that too much time playing video games can cause aggression, anxiety, and depression.
I have developed these tips to help you raise children with healthy gaming habits.
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What are the benefits of playing video games?
Surprisingly there are benefits of play video games. Here are a few that I have found.
Have you associated games with isolation? Think again.
Most gamers compete with partners. Pikmin and Farmville offer your child plenty of ways to connect online and off.
Or your child can compete with you or other siblings in a round of tennis on the Wii. With the Nintendo Wii U, you can take family game night to the next level!
Strengthen family ties
The connection you make with your kids may be the time that you spend with them. Finding games that you can play together counts as quality time that your kids will enjoy.
If your child is a Super Mario fanatic, like me, you could work on saving the Sprixie Kingdom together and bring back the classic system.
Simple games are ideal for a relaxing break.
Enhance thinking skills
Games also strengthen many cognitive skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and working memory.
Super Mario can actually bring out the artist in your child.
The interactive nature of games provides a workout for the imagination.
So your little one may carry that innovative thinking over into their math homework.
Prepare for future careers
Those shooter games have a bad reputation for making kids violent or induce the idea of mass shootings.
But shooter games could be a gateway for an engineering career. They develop spatial skills essential for studying science and math.
Likewise, games heavy in word count are great reading practice.
What are gaming ground rules that I should have for my kids?
Agree in advance
It’s far effective to decide on overall guidelines before your child starts asking for the latest hot game.
If you don’t want you child playing games with shooting or zombies make sure you let them know.
Explain your reasoning and be consistent.
Check the ratings
Each game has a rating on the package indicating the appropriate ages and the nature of the content you might find questionable, such as violence or strong language.
I highly recommend checking the ratings before purchasing any new games. It may even be helpful to let your child know that they can not purchase or play games with a certain rating.
For more information, visit the Entertainment Software Rating Board website to learn more about the ratings.
Activate parental controls
Most gaming systems have options just like the V-chip on TVs. These special chips allow you to block content based on ratings.
Your kids may be able to find ways around them, but they’re one way to block some content.
Remember to enable the parental controls before allowing your child to play to help ensure they are playing age-appropriate games.
Set up time limits
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends up to two hours of total screen time a day.
Find a schedule that suits your family. I have found that telling my son that he can play his game after he finishes all of his homework gets him motivated and prevents me from having to nag him to hurry up and finish.
Once we have had bath time the games and tablets are put away for the rest of the night.
Find what works for your schedule and household. Then stick to it.
Enforce a curfew
Once you have set up limits, establish a curfew. Make the hour or two before bed an electronic-free zone.
Bright lights and intense activity interfere with sleep. And you know what happens to your child when they don’t get enough or quality sleep.
Stick to your budget
You’ve probably noticed the high price tags on many games and consoles.
Turn shopping for games into an opportunity for financial education. Your child may want to work for the extra money they can spend on games or figure out how to prioritize their purchases.
Maybe even giving your child an allowance when they complete their chores will help them appreciate their games more. And take the stress off of you to buy them.
Encourage other activities
Children thrive on sampling a broad range of activities.
Be sure to encourage playtime without electronics as well. You can try taking your kids on outings to the library and local history museum.
Or sign up for a family gym membership to ensure regular physical exercise.
Enjoy fun and games.
By setting limits on your children’s use of video games, the whole family can reap valuable psychological and social benefits.
A little time in the Lego universe could help your child to make friends, succeed in school, and feel happier.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.
This post is a part of the series 31 Days of Parenting Tips for Busy Moms With Young Kids. Each day throughout the series I am discussing a different topic regarding parenting young kids. I’d love for you to follow along and share this series with moms who may need some support or just to hear that they aren’t alone in their journey of raising young kids.
Find all of the posts in one place on the series homepage: 31 Days of Parenting Tips for Busy Moms With Young Kids