OK. My title is incredibly corny. But the info in this blog will help you decide if allowing your child to live in “video game-land” is the right choice. The truth is, there is a boatload of research on the topic, and the games are as varied as the little rugrats who use them.
Here are some pros you might want to consider. Many video games are calisthenics for young minds. A child learns to follow instructions, solve problems and use logic. Your son or daughter can develop excellent hand-eye coordination, motor and spatial skills. Games like SimCity can teach logistics and resource management. Kiddies can learn to multi-task, strategize and make rapid analysis and decisions. Academic development can be enhanced because young gamers must learn reading and math skills, mapping and memory.
Are there life skills, character-builders that can be developed playing video games? Surprisingly, yes. They learn to persevere. If at first you don’t succeed, die and try to move onto the “next level” next time. Your child can learn to take risks, make reasoned judgments, respond to challenges and respond to frustration. They can learn real-world skills like teamwork, exploring and re-thinking goals.
Video games do not necessarily turn your offspring into couch potatoes. Video games that require your kid to be active, such as Dance Dance Revolution and Nintendo Wii Boxing give your kid a good workout. And let’s face it,playing video games is safer than having your teens do drugs, alcohol and street racing in the real world.
Good stuff. But like any pursuit, playing video games is a mixed bag.
What are some of the negative effects of gaming for your child? Violence. Blood, guts and gore. Most psychologists says that children who continually play violent games will have more aggressive thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The sedentary kid addicted to his video console may become isolated and asocial. He can neglect his studies, sports or family and friend interactions. Some kids begin to blur the line between fantasy and the real world. Bad language, bullying and bad behavior can be picked up from online “friend” gamers. Neurologists tell us that video games can be addictive and increase depression and anxiety. Impulse control and attention deficit disorders (though ADD definitely has genetic components) are often found in heavy gamers.
So…Mom and Dad-I’ve given you a few thoughts on a pervasive, complex issue that affects every household in America? How do you make good choices for your child?
Monitor his/her usage. Know what your child is playing and how long. You pay attention to his movie/television choices (I hope!). If you don’t know about a game, you’d better learn about it before your child plays it. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that your child should spend no more than TWO hours per day in front of an electronic screen of any kind (with the exception of homework). Get him or her outside playing in the grass, creating art projects or making music. Be sure he or she has “real people” friends! Watch your child’s behavior following video playtime. If you see aggressive bullying, take away his game and trade it for a “healthier” game alternative. If your teen buys an AK47 after playing Call of Duty, then I would suggest you take it away…..and sell the gun!
The key to Christian parenting is involvement. Know your child. Spend time together. And pray your guts out. God will give you the wisdom and love that you need.
For excellent information regarding parenting and video games, go to http://www.raisesmartkid.com/.
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