Children spend at least 13 to 30 hours a week gaming. Most computer games are violent and aggressive and do little to inculcate moral values. Studies indicate that gaming results in aggressiveness and violent responses in children. And, children are less concerned and helpful towards their peers and families. They become socially stunted.
The onus of minimizing the effects and ensuring that children receive a rounded upbringing falls on parents. It is important to introduce character building activities and to censor games, ensuring suitability.
• Study guidelines established by the Entertainment Software Board. They indicate suitability for different age groups. Read the content label which will summarize the game, this will serve as an appropriateness guideline.
• Know your child. If you find any signs of being unsettled withdraw games that cause this change in behavior. Introduce games that titillate the imagination and make use of the mind. Avoid violence and aggression.
• Visit www.ESRB.com this provides game ratings as well as reviews.
• Rent a game and play it yourself. First hand knowledge will serve you well.
• Communicate with other parents. You will glean the trends, know the popularity.
• Play the games with your child. Know their reactions and learn their responses.
• Establish an open relationship where your child becomes comfortable even talking about what is inappropriate or disturbing. Establish gently what is right and wrong. Bullying does not help.
• Set up the computer and gaming console in a family room. All games will then be out in the open. You will be in a position to judge and monitor.
• Feel free to contact the manufacturer and voice your opinion.
• Study in detail the plus and minus points of computer usage.
• Interact with your child at all levels.
• Be a cautious buyer –question claims of advancing brain development.
• Introduce a variable routine for your child. Outdoor activities interwoven with computer related activities.
• Focus on social and emotional development. The child must be confident, curious, and forthright; display self control; be able to relate linearly, be caring and cooperative, and be communicative.
• Choose games that are fun and have a degree of effective learning.
• Introduce games that require two or more players—this fosters social interaction.
• Playing games should be a privilege not a right. Emphasize that parental approval is a must.
• Use games to maximize your child’s interests. If the child is mechanical minded purchase games that encourage this talent.
• Choose games that require decisions and strategies. Games should be more than shoot, blow up, destroy, and kill. Avoid killer machine games.
• Explain why a game is not to be played. Never just take away a game. A child needs to understand why you are against playing certain games.
Gaming is a part of life. It introduces computer technology, problem solving, and logic. It improves motor as well as spatial skills. Games are not just entertaining, they can be therapeutic too. Choose wisely and guide your child.