Home video games are very popular and have a significant influence on our children. Over 85% of students say they play video games regularly. Over 30% of American homes have a video game system hooked up to the television. Millions more own portable game systems. Over 20% of homes have broadband access to video games. While these games are still heavily played by males, the number of female players is rapidly growing. Video games have a positive and a negative side. With proper supervision, they can be a fun and educational form of play.
Compared to watching television, video games are a better form of entertainment because they are interactive. Your child's mind has to be turned on and working. The following are some possible benefits of playing video games.
The drawbacks of playing video games are similar to those of watching TV:
You need to be concerned if your child:
Don't expect your child to set his own limits on the amount of time he spends playing video games and watching TV. You are responsible for your child's well-being and must set limits for him. If the rules are broken, deny your child access to the game for a day or more. Insist that homework and chores be completed before your child can play video games. Game time can even be used as an incentive for finishing these tasks properly.
A reasonable limit is an hour of play on school nights and 2 hours a day on weekends. Some parents allow the video games only on weekends. The limits are for video game and TV time combined. If your child is doing poorly in school, temporarily eliminate video game time on school nights. Some parents allow their children to earn video game time by putting in reading time.
Remember that children who stay up late are usually too tired the next day to remember what they are taught in school. Don't allow your child to have a video game set in his bedroom, because this eliminates your control over time spent playing. When bedtime is drawing near, give your child a 10-minute warning.
Try to stay out of disagreements, as long as they remain verbal. Children can't go through life having a referee to resolve their differences. If the dispute becomes too loud, remove the game until your children work out a solution.
Encourage your child to buy or rent sports, puzzle, maze, or adventure games. Avoid games that contain lots of murder, combat, and destruction. Research suggests that video games encourage more aggressive behavior than violent TV shows because your child is an active participant not just an observer. If your child borrows or rents a new game, make sure it is alright before he uses it. Look at game ratings, but also preview the game before letting your child play. Ratings are not a perfect system for screening things you don't want your child to hear or see.
Educational computer games tap the motivational power of arcade games and help your child learn. They combine academics and entertainment, and also teach computer skills. If you have a choice, buy computer games instead of video games.
Video games are not bad for children. They can teach certain skills and they are more educational than watching TV. If you try to forbid video games, your child will play them at an arcade or a friend's home. So teach your child to spend a reasonable amount of time playing them. Encourage reading, music, hobbies, sports, and playing with friends as well.