Are Videogames Beneficial for my Child?

Video games are one of the biggest generational divides today between children and parents. The games today are very different in presentation and content than games parents played even a few years ago.  Video games are used in multiple settings from educational and social settings, to purely entertainment. 

It is unrealistic to think a parent can eliminate exposure to gaming. However, parents can communicate and set parameters regarding gaming and their child.  To help you make an informed decision, below are some potential positive and negative effects of video games on children:

Positive Effects:

Cognitive BenefitsCognitive benefits: Some studies suggest that playing video games can improve cognitive skills such as attention, spatial reasoning, problem-solving, and multitasking. With increased technology, many games have become more interactive, activating both the mind and the body. Engaging your child’s body in creative ways benefits their development, especially when the content is created for an educational purpose. 
Social BenefitsMany video games involve social interaction, either online or in person, which can help children develop social skills and build relationships with peers. Multiplayer games encourage collaboration and active communication. Furthermore, allowing your child to teach you the game they’re playing opens the door for parent-child connection.
Entertainment ValueChildren are worked hard in the time they’re in school, plus the addition of multiple extracurriculars. Video games provide a source of entertainment and fun for children, and can be a way for them to relax and unwind after a long day. An allotted time of videogames at night is a great incentive for encouraging your child to be engaged, a reward for showing for themselves, their families and their communities during the day.

Negative Effects

AddictionNo parent wants addiction in their children to develop at such a young age and yet, we are seeing our children more addicted to screens. There is constant access to technology wherever they go; restricting access to videogames may be an area where you can control their exposure to screens. Video games are created to hook you with “one more level” until hours have passed. For a child in development, this is extremely harmful.
ViolenceMany video games contain violent content. The exposure to violence, fighting and profanity in video games is extremely high. It exposes your child to content they shouldn’t have access to at such a young age. This exposure can lead to desensitization to violence and aggressive behavior in some children. It’s important to keep in mind the long term effects of the content they are viewing. It is important to think about the game ratings and be aware of how an exposure to violent or mature gaming content can impact a child.
Health ProblemsGaming has added a physical risk to our bodies that no generation has faced before. Sitting in front of a screen for long periods of time can lead to physical health problems, such as obesity, poor posture, poor sleep and eye strain. As your child is growing, taking care of their bodies is an important factor to consider. Consider setting time limits and eliminating screen time before bed.

Communication between parents about the effects they see gaming have on their children is key. Parents who can unite in their assessment of their child’s needs are better positioned to effectively come up with options and  solutions.

Ultimately, whether or not video games are “good” for your child depends on a variety of factors, including the content, amount of time spent playing, and your child’s individual characteristics and circumstances. To promote healthy video game use, it’s important to set limits on screen time, choose age-appropriate games, and encourage a balance of physical activity and other forms of play.

Please contact Decade2Connect if you have questions. Our team is available to have discussions with you about the appropriate limits for your child.

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