By: Alyssa Strickland
Video games have been a controversial issue among parents for decades. While some people worry that video games “rot your brain” or encourage real-world violence, gaming can be a great form of mental stimulation for kids and parents alike. Believe it or not, some video games can boost your hand-eye coordination and improve your problem-solving skills. Plus, gaming with your kids is a wonderful chance to bond! Here are some tips to ensure your family gaming experience is fun and safe for everyone.
Getting Set Up
Start by picking out a place in your home for gaming. For many families, the living room works well for this purpose, but if you want to be able to watch your favorite shows and movies while your kids are gaming, you may want to choose a different room for your setup. If you’re planning on playing virtual games, make sure you choose a room with plenty of space so you can avoid tripping over furniture and running into walls!
Next, you will have to purchase a console! Compare your options carefully so you can choose the best console for your family’s gaming needs. For example, SavvyMom recommends considering several factors in your decision, including the longevity of the gaming system, the availability of age-appropriate games, and the types of parental controls that are included.
Is Your Internet Up to Speed?
To play online games without frustrating interference and lag, you must have a fast and reliable internet connection. This is a great opportunity to upgrade your internet! Fiber-optic internet is ideal for minimizing buffering and ensuring fast download speeds, so you won’t have to wait hours to play your new games. Take the time to research your internet options to ensure a smooth and stress-free gaming experience.
Once you’ve got your gaming system and internet set up, it’s time for the fun part—picking out video games! Ask your kids what kinds of games they want to play and then look them up to check whether they’re appropriate for your family. According to Focus on the Family, the video game rating system can be unreliable, but it’s a good place to start to gauge a game’s targeted age group. For example, games rated ‘E’ are designed for everyone including younger players while games rated ‘M’ are for mature players and may not be appropriate for your kids. Remember to do your own research into the games as well, reading online reviews or watching clips of the game via video channels.
Keeping Everyone Safe
Besides monitoring the content of your children’s video games, there are a few other steps you can take to keep your family safe—especially when it comes to online gaming. Familiarize yourself with the safety settings and parental controls on your children’s devices and set up any limits or restrictions you want to enforce. For example, you can filter the types of games your children can play, set screen-time limits, and block certain websites.
It’s also important to educate your children about internet safety. Make sure your kids understand the dangers of online gaming and how to interact with people online without making themselves vulnerable to predators or giving out personal information to other players. Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if anyone is behaving abusively or inappropriately in their games. Remember, bullying can take many forms, and cyberbullying is a real threat to anyone engaging with others over the internet.
Don’t let the risks of playing video games online scare you away from enjoying the fun of gaming with your kids! By taking the time to familiarize yourself with internet dangers and protecting your kids from inappropriate content, you can ensure that your gaming experience is safe for the whole family. That said, you might wind up with a bruised ego after your kids beat you at every game!
“Alyssa Strickland created millennial-parents.com for all the new parents on the block. Alyssa believes the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, but she also thinks it takes a village to raise a parent! Millennial-Parents is that village. Today’s parents can be more connected than ever and she hopes her site will enrich those connections. On Millennial-Parents, she shares tips and advice she learns through experience and from other young parents in three key areas — Education, Relationships, and Community.”