Decide what your video game guidelines are and then have clear communication with your child. Discuss all the guidelines, scenarios, expectations and consequences so no one feels misled when it comes time to play.
Parenting.org would like to help you set guidelines for video game play. Here are some guidelines for you to think about:
Time of play
For the most part, kids will play video games all day if you let them. But since most kids are in school during the day, this is not an option. Therefore, you need to determine the best time of day for your child to play video games. The options are: before school, after school or before bed. Depending on your daily routine, the best time for your child to play video games might be different than other families?. Again, discuss this before hand so that there are no surprises.
Prior to playing
Regardless of what time you choose for playing video games, it is best to require that your children finish their homework and/or chores before playing. If video gaming is your children?s favorite activity, this can be used as a great motivator to get the important tasks completed. Do not let your child rush through their work. Check over your children?s work to make sure it is done correctly and to the best of their ability before allowing them to play.
If a child?s grades are suffering, eliminate all video game time on school nights. Explain to your child this privilege will be reinstated after the teacher's weekly report confirms all homework was handed in and the overall quality of work and grades are improving. Explain you are doing this to help him or her better structure his or her time.
Length of play
In general, excessive amounts of television viewing can be harmful to a child. It decreases active time that could be spent playing with peers, daydreaming, thinking, participating in sports, music and other activities. Heavy viewing can reduce school performance by interfering with studying and reading.
Video gaming is not all bad for a child, since it requires them to think, memorize, imagine, strategize and be creative. Video games can even help develop some hand and eye coordination.
Still the most important issue is the length of time that your child is in front of the television. Two hours a day is a reasonable limit. Or allow one hour per day on school days and two to three hours on the weekend days. Again, be clear with you expectations.
Video game content that is acceptable in your house
For parents, staying current with appropriate video games and inappropriate video games for kids can be difficult. However, it is up to you to determine which games are good video games for children. Play the games with your son or daughter. It takes time to stay on top of it all, but it is worthwhile.
Once you have your guidelines down, stay informed. Know about the content of games and pay attention to the latest information on video gaming and its effects on kids. The National Institute on Media and the Family puts out an excellent annual Video Game Report Card. Check out what video game ratings mean and search for individual game ratings at the Entertainment Software Rating Board website. To look at video clips and read video game enthusiasts? game reviews, you can go to sites such as GameSpot or IGN. Let your children know that games with excessive violence, bad language or pornography will not be acceptable. Set guidelines and stick to them.
Sharing a video game system
Sharing a video game system can create a great learning opportunity for kids. More than likely, you will need to be involved in teaching kids how to share. This can be accomplished in a number of ways: equal amounts of playing time, equal amount of turns, alternating days of play, taking turns as the first player, taking turns selecting the game and so on. Discovering how to cooperate and getting along with others is imperative throughout life. Use this opportunity to give kids a head start on these skills. By teaching kids how to share, simple prompts and reminders may be all that is necessary for peaceful video gaming.
Playing video games at a friend?s house
Often, kids like to get together and play video games in groups. If your son or daughter is heading to a friend?s house to play video games, call the other parent(s) and ask what games the kids will play. Share your family?s video game guidelines and ask about theirs. Pass on anything new you?ve learned about the vast world of good video games, as well as bad video games.
Setting clear guidelines improves communication and helps you and your child to avoid confusion and arguments later. With good guidance from you, your child will know exactly what is expected in regards to playing video games. Ultimately, it will be up to you to decide if it will be GAME ON or GAME OVER.
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