It’s time to flip the digital script. Not parents versus kids, but instead, parents with kids. I know you probably grew up in an analog world, but it’s time to embrace your inner Atari and play some video games with your kids.
Think Online Gaming with Your Kid is Bad? Think Again
Research shows: playing video games with your children is beneficial. Parents that play games with their children set up a safer gaming experience and will probably see an increase in trust by being involved.
Many gaming platforms, like Roblox, have in-game chat. Most parents don’t know who their children interact with online. By watching them play, parents can become aware of who their children are interacting with, understand what the interactions look like, and give their child tools for handing the interactions. Recently, Internet Matters chief executive Carolyn Bunting said:
“We know that parents who regularly get involved with their children’s activities online are better placed to lead them through some of the issues they may face.”
Understanding Online Gaming Basics for Parents
Jumping into online gaming might frighten you, but organizations like Internet Matters in the UK have created an Online Gaming Guide, which is a great starting point for parents.
Related: Online Gaming Hub for Parents
Playing video games with your child allows an opportunity to understand your children’s social habits and monitor their emotional responses to problems and pain points they experience.
The Benefits of Gaming Online with Your Children
1. It Creates a Stronger Parent-Child Bond
Gaming together combats the digital divide that can drive youngsters and parents apart. Playing online games with your child allows them to teach you a lesson or two, which cultivates a more trusting parent-child relationship.
More importantly, whether you’re looting a treasure box or making it through the Rainbow Road level on MarioKart, you’re working together to achieve a common goal.
Gaming can be a form of isolation for some children, so taking the time to tap into their world invites natural discussion. For instance, talking to them about the game and why they do or don’t like certain aspects can help you better understand the things they’re going through in their own lives.
Do they seem especially frustrated when they can’t get past a certain level? Is it really the game that’s bothering them or did they have a bad day at school? Behavior translates into online gaming and watching your child interact online can help you draw the parallel between how they respond to failure, difficulty, and defeat in real life.
2. It Positively Impacts Childhood Development
Gaming with your child creates ample opportunity for impromptu teaching moments.
For instance, video games that involve killing or theft allow you to ask moral questions. If you asked your child to explain why they just killed someone, they’ll begin to understand why such questions warrant a thoughtful response and discussion.
This will promote important conversations about appropriate and acceptable behaviors; you can talk through each scene.
Even by simply talking with your kids, you can learn their opinions and worldview. And if you discover destructive or dangerous thinking, you can nip it in the bud before they’re full-grown.
3. It Teaches Real-Life Concepts
Video games encourage kids to solve problems on their own. If they don’t know how to crack level eight, you probably don’t know how to either. In this instance, you can’t solve their problems for them. Your children are forced to do it on their own, or be proactive and seek help from other gamers.
Not only that, video games teach valuable communication skills. Most internet games were designed with multiplayer in mind, so users rely on interacting with a bevy of other players. This can force shy children out of their shell as well as teach large-scale socialization.
Plus, if you routinely monitor your children’s online activity and set up parental controls where necessary, you can establish a pattern of safe online interaction early.
Meet Them in Their Gaming World
As more of our children’s lives turn digital, there’s a danger we will grow apart. There’s a huge gap between what parents understand about internet gaming and what’s actually the truth.
By stepping onto their digital turf, you can understand your child better and help teach them the meaning of their imaginative play. Plus, knowing what to watch for will help you protect them better. As a result, you’ll grow closer in the process. Win-win.
Additional reading that might interest you:
- What’s the Right Amount of Screen Time for my Kid?
- What Parental Controls Exist on Gaming Platforms?
I’m a journalist
I’ve been combining my fascination of interpersonal communication with the tech and startup world and sharing my findings through digital journalism.
1 thought on “It’s Time to Start Playing Video Games with Your Kids”
Hello Hilary. I was inspired by your blog post on playing with our kids. I myself have a very close relationship with my 12 year old due to our shared love for video games. That said, I have recently been diagnosed with an illness that has me out of work and bound to my home. One of the things that came to mind as a future job was playing video games with kids that don’t have parents committed to playing with them. Call it kind of a online video game babysitting or tutoring services. I am an engineer with 15 year experience in the Medical Device sector and can talk both Spanish and English. Do you know of this service being a thing? Can you point me in the right direction on how I could go about this idea? My twitch is SrJSole and you can find me in most social medias the same way. My linked in is Jose Sole.