Many kids enjoy gaming. In fact, for decades, it has been a favorite teen (and often adult) pastime. However, as technology advances, video games change, too. Today’s gaming world is much different than it was 10 years ago, so parents often feel a little out of the loop when talking to their children about gaming.
You may even feel like your child is intentionally keeping their gaming life from you. These conversations can be difficult and uncomfortable, so you may be wondering how to talk with your child about their gaming habits. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make these conversations easier for you and your child.
Make the questions informal
Kids play video games for the same reasons they play basketball or guitar: these are enjoyable ways to spend time. Because of this, how you initiate the conversation with your child about video games is important. If you can, make the conversation as informal as possible. No one likes to feel like they are being grilled or judged for something, so if you begin the conversation informally, it will go more smoothly.
If you are hoping to talk to your child about video games, look for opportunities to ask questions during everyday conversations. Perhaps ask them about a video game you saw advertised to see if they’ve heard of it or played it. Or go shopping for video games with your child and learn from them as they shop. Not only will your child get to share something they love with you, but you’ll learn a great deal about their relationship with video games.
Keep your questions broad
When you ask questions about videogaming, try to make those questions as broad as possible. Specificity can happen as you get into the topic, but as you begin the conversation, try to keep the level of questioning as wide as possible. As your child gets more comfortable talking about their gaming, those more micro-level questions will feel safer for them to answer.
Know when to back off
Generally, as with many tough topics, there is a fine line between kids and their parents regarding questioning. Kids love talking about things they are interested in as long as the conversation is casual and not forced. If the conversation becomes uncomfortable for you or you sense unease from your child, try to organically close the conversation. Slowly change topics to preserve any growth you have made when talking to your child about gaming.
Do your research
One of the most critical parts of your conversation with your child will begin before you even speak. Conduct some research on the topic of video games. Don’t go in uninformed on the subject. If you do, your child may sense that you are not taking the topic seriously enough to truly understand their perspective.
Research what video games look like, what eSports are, how video games work, and why people love them. Understand that there are many perspectives regarding video games and be sure to read all sides of various debates you come across. The more informed you can become, the more invested you will feel in the conversation. Your child will also see they can talk to you about this topic because you’ve done the hard work of learning before the conversation begins.
Avoid the A word
Video games can be powerful. Kids and adults use them to relieve stress and help regulate emotions. Knowing this, do not approach the conversation assuming your child’s gaming is negatively impacting them or that they are addicted. With the research you’ve done, you may be concerned about some things you came across, especially in terms of violence and video games. Your child knows you have these concerns; you do not need to voice them. Try not to accuse your child of anything or call their gaming out as a negative part of their life. For some kids, their gaming may feel like a space (perhaps the only space) where they can truly be themselves. Instead of accusing, support and listen.
Choose the time wisely
Keeping in mind that the conversation should feel natural, work it into a time you usually share with your family. If you typically share with your child to or from school, perhaps that is an excellent time to talk about video games. Try to determine how your child’s day went before beginning. Did they have a great day? It may be a good time. On the other hand, it might not be the best moment if it was a rough or tiring day. Do not have a conversation while your child is playing a video game. Their attention will be focused on the game rather than the conversation, and they will be frustrated about being interrupted. Another good time to have a conversation is over dinner or even while running errands on the weekend.
Often, kids who love to game have dreams of becoming pro eSport athletes just like kids who dream of becoming pro football or basketball players. These dreams are valid, and eSport athletes can earn scholarships and a lot of money for their endeavors.
Once you’ve determined the time and the place for your casual conversation about video gaming, you may wonder what questions you can use to start a gaming discussion with your kids. Well, we’ve got some questions that could get you started.
You will see that the first question is intended to help your child see that you want to support them and assure they have what they need. Though you could ask many other questions, these are a good place to begin.
- How’s your gaming equipment holding up? Is it working for what you want to play?
- Do you feel like video gaming helps you manage stress?
- What games are you enjoying these days?
- Do you prefer single-player games or multiplayer games?
- What is your favorite style of game? Do you enjoy first-person shooters, builder games, or sports games?
- Do you game with your buddies from school or with other kids you’ve met online?
- Do you enjoy online gaming?
- What is your favorite online game?
- When you play online, do you play with other gamers you know or prefer to be placed at random with different people?
- Do you like to stream your games? What about your friends? Do they stream?
As you begin these tough conversations with your child, know that by wanting to share in these important topics, you are already showing what a compassionate and thoughtful parent you are.
So, do your homework, choose your time carefully, and be open to the conversation. We can’t wait to hear how it goes.
Please feel free to ask questions, make a comment, or leave feedback in the comments.