I recently wrote a post concentrating on parents that see the positive benefits of gaming for their children/family. It left me feeling impressed with the mums and dads that replied and restored some of my faith in humans. However, a few days later I received a response that showed me that not all parents were happy or comfortable with their children playing video games.
The first not so positive response I received came via Kate from Kate on Thin Ice. She said “I hate gaming but have learned to live it for how it allows me time one on one with my children and whilst they are looking at a screen, they sometimes find it easier to talk about anything that is worrying them much like when walking or driving as adults”
This made me think about the other side, so I reached out asking for parents to share their concerns regarding their children and gaming. These are the responses I received.
My son has a DS, a tablet and an Xbox 360. He’s usually allowed to play either the tablet or ds after he’s read to me once home from school for 20-30 minutes.
Recently we’ve noticed his attitude and behaviour has drastically changed following playing on tech and so he’s now on a tech ban for the week to see if that improves it.
I’m really cautious as it is about him being on tech too much, as obviously, I never had lots to do in that genre as a child and I don’t particularly think children should be on it too much anyway. Jemma from Mayflower Blogs
We are a big gaming family but I do worry about the chat elements of certain online games. I know some of them aren’t moderated and have been used as a grooming tool in the past. This terrifies me. Sophie from Soph-obsessed.
My little boy was allowed mine craft and only an hour a day either side of the day but it got to a point where he was constantly asking for it and talking about it even though he couldn’t read what to do I have since removed it as I believed it wasn’t healthy but now he’s moved onto roblox which is just as bad it scares me that kids these days only seem to want to game never mind the added worry of online predators I try and steer them away from it as much as possible but without stopping them all together a little bit in moderation is my view but it’s hard parenting it. Helen from My Crazy Family Story
I am actually a gamer and generally very pro gaming, but because of this I’m hyper aware that online gaming communities can be incredibly sexist, racist and toxic environments with people who can expose children to extremely inappropriate things. I will not be allowing my son to play any games with online chat / voice elements without supervision and the gaming PC / consoles will be in a shared family space so that it’s monitored. Christy from Welsh Mum.
It’s good to have these concerns because there are some elements to gaming that do need some monitoring. Chatting online is one of them. Strict monitoring will be required for the younger gamers. The NSPCC share some useful advice on how to help children play safely while online.
- Know the games your children are playing. Play it, learn what’s involved. If you can’t stand playing it ask someone else to check it out for you so you’re aware of the ins and outs of the game and the community. Read reviews, listen to the age guidelines and content warnings. Do remember that children may have access to the game outside the home, even if you ban it.
- Teach your children how to mute, block and report others that they meet online. Never get angry at the child if they show you worrying messages and never say you will ban gaming as a response. You want the children to feel safe and comfortable approaching you and that they won’t be forced to stop as a result.
- Make sure your child knows the details that should not be shared, including where they live, social networks, name, school, clubs, their photos or videos. Also, remind your child that game chat should remain concentrated on the game if they are playing with people they don’t know and that they shouldn’t agree to chat elsewhere.
- Use the parental controls on the PC and consoles to protect younger children.
- Talk to your children regularly about online safety buy also about gaming in general. Keep the conversations relaxed and open.
Childline has plenty of useful advice too, you can check that out by visiting the online safety section. This is great for older children to read through as it covers plenty of topics including how to ban and report people, online bullying, privacy settings and so on.
Another concern comes regarding behaviour. As with all things in life, it often comes down to moderation. Set the rules and encourage other activities and socialising with other children. There’s a very interesting TEDTalk about your brain on video games, presented by cognitive researcher Daphne Bavelier that makes for interesting viewing.
Further reading sharing the good and bad side of gaming can be found below.
A quote that rings true with me comes from psychologist Christopher J Ferguson, who said “This seems to fit into a longer historical pattern of people kind of panicking over new media. […] It happened with novels in the 18th century, comic books and rock and roll in the 50s, and video nasties in the 80s. Now it’s happening with video games […] In fact, the people that tend to hold the more extreme negative views of video games tend to have more negative views of children and adolescents as well. And that’s true for scholars just as it is for people in the general public.”
With knowledge comes power.