Video games are now people’s excuse for bad or no parenting. My 10 year old has been a video game player since he could hold a phone in his hands. Do I have to limit his time on occasion? Yes, I do. Do I pay attention to who he plays with, how he plays, and what he plays? Yes, I do.
Every child responds to and interacts differently with the world around him. There are kids that I probably would not allow to play video games or I would greatly restrict the games and playing times. If your child has problems distinguishing the difference between what is ok for an imaginary avatar in a game and reality, then do not let them play. If your child is playing with a group of kids who are a bad influence, then do not let your child play or get your child into a different group. It’s called parenting. It’s the same with the kids they run around with at school or after school. It’s the exact same influences. One is online and the other is in person.
Here are some of the positive benefits my own son receives from playing video games online:
He has met and developed friendships with kids from several states and two countries.
He has no fear of computers. He will jump on any computer or laptop and figure out how to use the various programs. He knows how to hookup and use accessories. He knows how to use the internet to search for information. People tell me that my son is still young enough to think I’m right and just wait until he is a teenager. No, he isn’t. If I tell him anything, he looks it up on the internet. I get fact checked all day everyday. I think it’s a positive.
He has excellent eye-hand coordination and reflexes.
He learns quickly.
He has learned not to give up but to keep trying. Any new game has a learning curve. You lose a lot when you start a new game or a new level.
He has learned teamwork. His group of friends play together. There are several games where they play on teams. If they want to advance, they have to help each other.
He has learned how to deal with online bullies. He cuts them off and just won’t play with them. He is not interested. He is online to have fun.
He has learned that how people look is irrelevant. We had a conversation a few days ago about how people don’t usually look how they sound or how you expect them to look. When they’re playing a game and talking over a mic, they cannot see each other. He has a few friends he has connected with and they have sent pics to each other. He is always surprised at how they look compared to the idea he had in his head. We also had a conversation one day about not being able to tell what race or ethnic group someone belongs to based solely on their voice or how they speak. Sometimes you can and sometimes you cannot.
He has learned to channel his stress and aggression or anger in a healthy manner. When he comes home from school and has had a bad day, he will go online by himself and play a game where he is just destroying things. It takes about an hour and he is laughing and then is logged on with his friends. There are much worse ways to handle aggression. It’s the modern equivalent of a punching bag.
He has learned if in doubt, don’t interact with the other person online. He knows the difference between an adult voice and a kid’s voice.
As a parent, you can sit in another room nearby and listen to your child play online. However your child is acting online with his friends, is a pretty good indicator of how he or she is acting offline. Whatever types of friends your child has online, is a pretty good indicator of the friends your child is making offline. Take the opportunity that is there in front of you to get to know what your child is like when he or she thinks you are not around. It’s a great opportunity to guide your child in their behavior and choices.