In the article “Online games. Opportunities and threats for their users ”we presented the benefits and negative consequences of playing. Knowing them, it is worth asking an important question: how can we, parents, support our children so that playing computer games contributes to their comprehensive development? In general, let’s try to move from passive to active mediation, and thus, in the approach to games, let’s try to be open-minded and partner-like.
Be open to the child’s encouragement:
showing an attitude of reluctance and closure to the digital sphere exposes the parent to marginalization and his child to socialization under their own supervision. If you feel that you do not have enough knowledge about the games, you can always ask for advice from other household members who are active players. Thanks to this, you will know what exactly is the game that your child is so eager to spend time on.
methods of controlling or spying on or eavesdropping on a playing child will not work in the long run. Firstly, they violate the child’s privacy, secondly, they are not a good source of reliable information, and thirdly, they do not have an interactive value. If you want to find out what your child is actually playing, just stay with your child. Use the method of open participant observation, which leads to a situation in which the child plays in your presence.
Open your eyes:
as a parent, you should have full knowledge of the games your child owns, both in physical (boxed) and digital versions (installed on a computer, console, or mobile device). Remember that children can exchange games with each other quite often, so be especially careful about what your child has on a desk, on a bookcase, in cabinets. In the face of the constant miniaturization of technology and wide access to the mobile Internet, pay attention not only to the computer or game console but also, or even above all, to install applications that are loaded into digital tools, most often tablets and smartphones.
- Remember that it is worth involving your child in the process of verifying the games they have. You can always give those that are less used to others or sell (under parental control). If you find games and applications of questionable content, or even harmful to your child’s development, make them the subject of open discussion.
Talk and be consistent:
strict parental controls as well as strictly restricting access to video games are not the best solution. In the digital world, the child should not be completely cut off from digital media. Better apply a policy of cooperation, discussion, and firm adherence to established rules, without creating an artificial environment without screen media. Remember that if you completely restrict your child’s access to games, the child will seek access to games elsewhere (at school, at a friend’s, another family member’s).
Daily game use should be based on the condition and quality of other duties, especially school and home duties. Make the possibility of playing the game dependent on cleaning the room in advance, doing homework, taking the dog outside, or eating a meal. Such conditioning of children in terms of access to games is a much better solution than using an instrumental approach in which the game is a reward for an activity or achievement of a set goal.
Maintain good personal hygiene:
Games are just like meals: healthy eaters clearly point out that it is better to eat more meals. But less than one large meal. It’s the same with playing games. If you have established rules that a child can play for 1 hour a day. Remember that it is better to divide this time into 3 times 20 minutes than to play 60 minutes continuously. Remember that personal hygiene also includes controlling the time the child is involved in the process of playing the game. As well as controlling the quality of the absorbed content used in the games.
Establish a coalition with other parents:
computer games are available for children not only in their own family home but also at their friends’ homes. A child’s visit to friends, a break at school. A trip to school by public transport is a great time for the child to take advantage of the opportunity to play a game. Remember that as a parent who cares about your own child. You can always talk to other parents with whom your child comes into contact.
Be a committed companion for your child:
Very often, children are more knowledgeable about computer games than their parents. Remember that this does not exempt you from accompanying your child to enter the world of digital media. Discussions about the games used, asking about favorite characters (and their personality traits), participating in game conventions together. Playing together – these are just examples of behaviors that may indicate parental involvement. Playing together brings many benefits for both parties: the parent develops his digital competencies. Reduces the generational distance while being a conversation partner for his child. A child, being able to enter into cooperation or competition with his parent. By talking to him, builds mutual experiences related to spending free time together. In addition, playing games together allows you to observe how your child is dealing with successes and possible failures.
Control the games used:
Computer games have different specificities, depending on their complexity, a parent should spend more or less time learning about them. It is worth asking the child to present the most important possibilities offered by the game. To present the main idea and the most important rules of the game. An interesting idea is also for the parent to interact with the selected heroes of the game by independently “going through”. A fragment of the game combined with reading the descriptions on the PEGI website. As a parent, remember that it is fairly common practice in the Internet space to view the gameplay on YouTube. To do this, just enter the game title in the search engine along with the phrase “let’s play”, “let’s play” or “gameplay”.
In case of problems, seek help from other specialists:
if you feel insecure in the field of digital media, you cannot solve problems or simply need advice. Do not feel hesitant to seek help from specialists who know the topic important to you. Remember that around you – at a nearby school or cultural institution. There are people who can support you in solving any problems related to playing games. Such people, even if they will not be able to help you right away, are a valuable source of information about other specialists whose support you are looking for.
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Online games can be a great ally in the development and education of your child. Age-appropriate. Given in the appropriate time unit, your commitment can contribute to better concentration. Increased creativity, but also to greater altruism and social trust. Remember this when you give your child access to games without any control. As well as when you do not want to meet his virtual heroes.