The video game industry has become an almost 12 billion dollar per year business in the United States and is demanding the attention of both adults and children. Many parents are concerned about the type of games their kids play as well as the amount of time they spend playing. I would like to give a few suggestions on how parents can be aware of what games their kids are playing and also highlight a few of the positive aspects of gaming. First, the positives.
- The Scientific American reported that video games (especially the Wii) may be as healthy for kids as conventional playtime
- Video games can improve reasoning skills and visual spatial abilities, as well as encourage visual motor coordination
- Some games, such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band can benefit a child’s social development
- Video games can also be a powerful platform for learning that educators will increasingly take advantage of
Of course, many of these positives can be achieved by a range of other activities, but I think it is important to bring attention to some ways that video games can be beneficial. However, there are also many concerns. I think it is important for parents to know what type of games their kids are playing and to set appropriate limits. Here are a few suggestions to consider.
- Pay attention to the ESRB ratings of the games while keeping in mind that there are variations in the content of similarly rated games
- Don’t be afraid to set limits according to your values and beliefs
- Use commonsensemedia.org to do some specific research on the video games your kids are playing (this site is also great for movies and music ratings as well)
- Spend time either playing with your kids or at least watching to let them know you are interested and paying attention