How parents can help their teen kids develop healthy gaming habits
Whether their teen kids kill time staring at their iPads or get carried away by the adventures on PCs or consoles, parents have to make peace that video games have become a day-to-day part of modern childhood. And while many are still fighting to win this war, others are trying to bring their children’s real and virtual lives in balance. So it makes sense that when parents want to make this work, they have many game-related concerns: what content can be appropriate for a teenager, how much gaming time should be allowed, and how to protect their kids from possible detrimental influence of the online community.
By introducing healthy gaming habits, rather than setting strict limitations, parents have a unique opportunity to take advantage of many video gaming benefits and teach their teens a responsible attitude to life. Additionally, those who try to reach an agreement (in contrast to toxic forcing parents) are more likely to build friendly and trustful relationships with their children.
Here are a few tips on how you can make the video-gaming experience good for your kid.
Know the content
When it comes to playing video games, many parents are worried that their children can develop violent behavior and become more aggressive. But there is a huge difference between exterminating monsters in a post-apocalyptic world and simply solving riddles or starting a business.
Not all video games have a bad impact. There are plenty of those that help boost communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. Lots of them, by the way, have large communities that can be a good way to socialize, especially for shy kids.
And don’t underestimate the power of parents and children playing together. This is a great chance to become familiar with your teenager’s interests from within and build a stronger connection with them. And you can always be in charge of the content your kid gets exposed to.
By all means, being aware of the video game content and trends is a good rule of thumb. According to Liz Blossom, a paper writing service consultant on children psychology and a mom of three, “parents should check the game prior their kids will start playing it, as the final decision is always up to them.” She insists that every family should develop a strict rating system and stick to it adamantly. “If parents think that some video-game is not a good fit for their kid because it doesn’t go in line with their family values, they should explain their position through an honest and open conversation. It also means that they too are not allowed to play it. They should be consistent in their decisions and set a good example by their own actions,” she insists.
Putting strict limitations on playing video games may be a quick solution to the problem in some cases. On the other hand, it may lead to lots of psychological problems in teenagers, like closed behavior, secretiveness, disappointment with life, and lack of trust in their parents. As technology is tightly ingrained in our daily routine, rather than stoop to blackmailing or using force it is important to give teenagers real-life no-tech alternatives where they willingly choose to set their devices aside.
Thus, if your teens enjoy their time during family meals or gatherings, sports competitions, or perhaps, some volunteering activity, their gaming time will be self-regulated in a natural and healthy way.
Stay in control of their gaming time
However, sometimes a game becomes so absorbing that teens can play it for hours on end and completely lose track of time. This can have a huge negative impact on health making their body rusty and causing pains in hands and fingers. Let’s not forget that blue light from the screen also has a stimulating effect that may ruin healthy sleeping patterns resulting in various bad outcomes.
In such cases, parents should be ready to find sharp ways to drive their kids off the screen. They may lend their helping hand to finish the mission sooner or offer some other win-win deal. However, it would be better if they set certain restrictions beforehand – like no devices two hours before sleep. Again, a more appealing alternative will be a good leg-up here.
Be attentive to their needs
Being a teenager is not an easy job. While a good deal of independence is crucial at this age, parents should be attentive to any minor changes that happen to their teens. Therefore, if you notice that after playing a video game your kid shows more violent or aggressive behavior, or becomes withdrawn and disinterested in any real-life challenges and activities, it may be the time to start raising an alarm. Unfortunately, teenagers are more prone to developing an addiction to video games, so stricter limitations may be required.
However, an open unjudged conversation can help to avoid that and be aware of everything that happens in your teen’s life. Any addiction comes for a reason and it is better to be a person your kid comes to ask for advice rather than an all-prohibiting criticizing parent.
At the same time, while many teens are well-versed about the dangers that may expect them in the online gaming community, as a parent you want to pronounce what being a smart online user means. It won’t hurt to spell out privacy rules and teach your kid to be careful about the information they disclose in chats or through voice conversation.
However, no matter what rules you set for your child, it is important that you don’t fail to obey them as a parent too. If you don’t show addictive behavior and have meaningful and healthy real-life habits, your teen will have a good example to follow.