Kids And Video Games: Time To Bust Some Myths
Nerdy Moms around the world remember their formative experiences as gamer girls. They remember when games came on cassette tapes which took up to 10 minutes to load (a masochistic pleasure that gamers born after the ‘80s will never know), they remember the joy that they garnered from guiding their pixelated protagonists through mazes, dungeons and the lairs of barrel throwing apes. They likely also remember the ample warnings of square eyes or that video games would turn them into mindless zombies (ironically, the very same warnings that our baby boomer parents were given by their parents about TV). Today, of course, video game graphics are more photorealistic and there are many adult-oriented, violent and explicit games that can prove damaging to younger players. As nerdy Moms we want to protect our children from the damaging effects of certain lifestyle choices, but we don’t want to be hypocrites.
Fortunately, games can not only be great entertainment for kids, they can also (with certain caveats) be formative in their development and great for family bonding. If only our parents had told us that, right? It’s time to bust some gaming myths wide open.
Gaming numbs kids’ minds
We’ve all had to contend with this accusation as kids, but the truth is that it’s absolutely spurious. Playing video games is no more numbing to the mind than watching an episode of your Game of Thrones. In fact, games offer numerous developmental outlets for kids. They improve hand / eye coordination, engender creative problem solving skills, stimulate the imagination, encourage lateral thinking, refine logic skills and aid concentration.
Gaming makes kids antisocial
Sure, a good game can be addictive in the same way that a great book can be hard to put down, but keeping gaming activities within set hours slays that potential dragon. There’s no reason why allowing kids a little time to unwind can’t be part of a balanced diet of activities, though if this means they have to hog the big TV make sure you get some great deals on headphones so your home isn’t filled with boings and zaps. Plus, gaming can be a shared fun experience for the whole family with the right games and equipment. There’s something uniquely satisfying about playing through some of your favorite games with your kids (just try not to whup their butts too hard at Street Fighter II Turbo).
Gaming exposes kids to inappropriate content
Yes. Absolutely. You should absolutely prevent your kids from gaming to protect them from inappropriate content. While you’re at it, make sure that they don’t watch any movies, read any books or converse with any of their peers in the playground. As a parent, it’s up to you to determine what content is appropriate for them. You know your child and what’s appropriate for their age and level of maturity, although you can’t go wrong with anything that has the words Lego or Mario in the title.
Gaming prevents kids from playing outdoors
Nonsense! Gaming should not supplant outdoor play and physical activities, but supplement it. Just like the odd cheeseburger is fine as part of a balanced diet, gaming should be enjoyed as part of a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities. As a responsible parent you’ll easily be able to find the balance between different types of activities to ensure that your kids develop as mature and well rounded little people.