The digital age has changed the landscape of many activities and pastimes. You can see its impact on industries and the economy and even how it affects our day-to-day lives.
Hobbies and pastimes are no exception to the advancement of technology. Nowadays, even children have the option to socialize and play games online. It’s a change to which the parents of today must adapt.
Many parents might ask, “Is gaming bad for my child?” The short answer is no, but as with all good and enjoyable things, too much of it can cause problems.
Gaming online has its advantages and disadvantages for both parents and children alike. Gaming, quite like any other pastime, can be a good de-stresser and can be an amazing source of entertainment for people of any age. However, it can be addictive, as children and adults alike can end up spending too much time gaming.
So how can parents strike that positive balance for their children?
Understanding the gaming community and how your child is engaging with it is one of the first steps to creating balance in your child’s life. But for some parents, this can be a challenge. It may even be a confusing topic for some; it’s certainly an often misunderstood one.
If you’re one of these parents, there’s no need to worry – I’ve listed 10 important questions parents should ask about their child’s gaming habits. Seeking the answers to these questions will help you understand how to approach your child’s video-game playing pastime.
1. Do you know how much time your child is spending playing online games?
First thing’s first: do you know how often your child plays online games, or how long each gaming session lasts? Getting the general or average amount of play time is enough to determine if this hobby is too much for your child. If you think their gaming time tends to override and be a detriment to other important moments in their day, such as study time and family time, then perhaps it might be best to start having a conversation about setting gaming hours.
2. What types of games do they play online?
Another important aspect of gaming parents should know is what types of games their children play. As with movies and television shows, games are also rated for the intended age and maturity of their audience. Some genres of games may also not be appropriate for all ages. As a parent, it’s vital to get acquainted with the games your child is playing to know if it’s appropriate for their age and understanding.
3. Who is your child playing games with online?
A lot of online games are multiplayer games, which means your child can play with anyone in the world. If your child is fond of online multiplayer games, you should get to know who your child spends their gaming time with. Do they play solo, or do they play with their friends from school? Do they play with adults they know in real life? Or are they playing with strangers in random queues? Do they talk to these people?
The virtual space is, after all, still a space where people can interact, so it’s up to parents to try to understand these spaces and guide their children on topics we would normally be concerned about if it was done in a physical space – like talking to strangers.
4. Does your child understand the risks of any online community, including the gaming community?
One important conversation parents should have with their children is about the risks of gaming in an online community. Playing online exposes you to other people from across the globe, but if your child understands the risks, then they should know how to properly handle situations when something uncomfortable or potentially threatening happens in one of their communities.
5. Does your child even game in the online community?
Just as some games are built to be played with other people, some games are also created to be enjoyed alone. However, even games that can be enjoyed alone have social media communities revolving around them, so make sure you know how your children consume their media, and in what other forms they are exposed to people online.
Opening conversations about their online experiences, including interactions with the people they meet online, will allow your children to be more open and expressive about their online interactions – quite like how children might tell their parents about new friends from school.
6. Does your child understand the risks of making in-game purchases?
While some games are purchased in physical game stores and online stores, other games offer in-game purchases for a better gaming experience. This means that while playing a game, your child could be presented an offer that requires real money to transact. To avoid surprise credit card transactions, it’s best to have an open conversation with your child about these types of purchases and offers.
7. Is gaming bad for your child’s health and welfare?
The relationship between parents and gaming has often been quite shaky due to the bad impression gaming sometimes leaves on parents and guardians. The truth is gaming is a great experience that has a huge potential to teach and train children to be more curious, intuitive, creative and logical. Schools and other companies focusing on education have even been tapping into games as a teaching tool because of their immersive qualities.
As with anything good, however, gaming still needs to be moderated. Just like sugar, which is known to give us energy, too much of it will lead to complications later on. A healthy and balanced outlook on gaming is the key to enjoying it and even learning from it.
8. Can active gaming actually lead to a good career or even a college scholarship?
So many parents ask, “Can my child get a scholarship for gaming?” The answer is yes!
Just as everything else is growing in the digital space, the gaming industry is also shifting and morphing as time passes, and the eSports industry is attracting plenty of attention.
eSports is a competitive subset of gaming equivalent to competitive basketball and football teams. And now, as with sports, many universities and colleges offer scholarships to those who excel at competitive gaming.
9. Do you have an ongoing dialogue with your child about their gaming habits?
Talking to your child about their gaming habits and making that effort to connect with them through their hobby will not only help you understand how your child is making sense of the world around them, but it will also help you connect with your child on an even deeper level.
Letting your child know you’re interested in their gaming keeps the lines of communication open, which will make it easier for your child to approach you if they encounter any trouble while they play.
10. Do you game?
Gaming opens a huge world with endless possibilities. It’s quite like a movie, the only difference being you’re the star of the show and you can influence how it unfolds.
The appeal of gaming is something that’s difficult to understand without actually trying it. It’s the same as how reading about another country or hearing about it from a friend is vastly different from going there and experiencing life for a few weeks.
So, if you don’t already game, maybe the question should be: should I start gaming?
Even just learning the games your child plays will give you a greater understanding of the whys and hows surrounding their habits. Not only that, but it will give you a new hobby that allows you to spend time with your child. To top it all off, being able to play the games your child plays will help you know of the possible threats and risks to your child’s safety online. First-hand experience will make your discussions with your child more tangible when it comes to safety.
Discovering the answers to these 10 questions can help you monitor and engage with your child and their love for gaming. Thanks for reading and let us know in the comments if you have any tips about managing your children’s gaming habits or questions about how to engage with your child about gaming.