Human beings have been playing games throughout the centuries. They are part of the human experience.
In fact, today there are approximately 2.2 billion gamers in the world which is 1/3 of the people on planet earth. Video games are electronic, interactive games known for their colourful elements, sound effects, and graphics.
We’ve come a long way from being entertained by dice, cards and board games with over 5 million video games now in existence. The impact of smartphones on the gaming industry has seen mobile gaming as a driving factor for games, as they can reach people formerly uninterested in gaming, and those unable to afford or support dedicated hardware, such as video game consoles. School-age children can also be encouraged to play educational games that reinforce what they are learning in the classroom.
A common concern for parents is the amount and degree of violence in many video games. Parents are advised to research the games that their children want to buy to ensure appropriate content for the child's age group.
Common Sense Media’s Rating and Reviews of all media types, including games are highly recommended. All games are reviewed using these criteria:
Drinking, drugs and smoking
While some children can become very involved in video games and do not want to stop playing them it’s important that parents set concrete limits about the amount of time that can be spent playing games. Being able to enforce these limits is essential. Even educational games should not be played to excess, in order to encourage a healthy balanced lifestyle.
Another point to consider is if the game can be stopped at any time? Some games allow the player the ability to pause or require them to reach a designated save point, while other games lock the player in for a period of time or until there is a winner. That may cause some conflict with parents when they request their child to stop playing and needs to be discussed when the game is installed. Other players may also become angry and could even cyberbully the child who has had to leave the game prematurely.
The best games for this age group will:
Reward creativity, imagination and planning
Help a child learn about rules and strategy with simple controls
Encourage a child to cooperate within a team and play with family and friends in the same room, rather than online with strangers
Include different levels of difficulty with the opportunity to progress through levels
Make it easy to play in short bursts, take breaks and save progress
Include positive messages about gender and diversity
Include educational content
What types of video games do you like to play?
What do you find exciting about these games?
Do you ever come across anything in-game that concerns you or confuses you?
Help your child choose a username that does not reveal their real name, location, gender, age or any personal information that makes them identifiable
Choose an avatar instead of a personal photograph
Explain the importance of not sending private information to other players online
Review and discuss when to avoid text or voice chat and when it might be okay
Be aware of any changes in behaviour that may indicate your child is spending too much time online playing games and use the Family Insights App to help you do this.
The book ’The Parents’ Survival Guide to Children, Technology and the Internet’ also has a chapter devoted to Video Games which includes advice about taking a balanced look at video games and the positive effects of gaming.