Video games are often condemned for the negative impact they have on children. But some are beneficial too — building vocabulary, enhancing memory and more. And great fun to play as a family!
By Aarthi Arun
Today, most families follow a sedentary lifestyle with children rarely getting to engage in physical activities or outdoor play. The fact that exercise of any kind is an integral part of holistic child development is stressed upon time and again by health experts. But sometimes, playing outdoors may simply not be an option for your child.
This could be because of reasons beyond your control — it could be raining or, there might be construction underway nearby and so on. In such unavoidable situations, how can your child keep himself engaged? As parents, while you may encourage your child to read books, draw and paint, or play indoor board games like Scotland Yard, you may also occasionally allow him to play video games. Keep in mind that this should only be under your firm but loving guidance and supervision.
But first, let’s find out how good or bad video games are for children.
Violent and inappropriate video games, or spending too much time playing them, can make children dull, aggressive, addicted and inactive. An article, ‘Violent video games make children more violent’ that brings together findings of different studies, published by the Centre for Educational Neuroscience, supports this finding. Further, playing such video games also affects academic performance and also, involvement in extra-curricular activities.
What's more, by spending a lot of time on their game consoles or devices, children are missing out on cultivating an active social life — interacting and playing with others in their age group. Remember, social interactions and playing outdoors contribute to your child’s overall mental and physical well-being.
At the same time, if usage of video games is monitored appropriately and you ensure that your children play non-violent kid-friendly games, it may not be as bad as it seems. In fact, research titled ‘Electronic gaming as pain distraction’ published by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in 2011 finds that video games not only keep your child entertained but also:
Additionally, in dyslexic children, video games improve reading skills, points out a study titled, ‘Action video games make dyslexic children read better’, published in 2013 by NCBI.
However, do note that for any video game, it is better to opt for the single-player mode than the online multiplayer one that lets your child play on the server with other players connected from around the world. Older children may play the multiplayer mode, provided you discuss with them beforehand about potential dangers like privacy issues, strangers and exposure to undesirable content. Parental supervision is recommended in such cases. Be equipped with parental control options that video games provide, such as limiting screen time, selecting kid-friendly safe modes and preventing access to unsuitable content.
So, why wait? Actively join your child's game sessions and spend some quality time together!
Here are games for your family to try. Get gaming!
Platform: Nintendo, Microsoft Xbox
Get ready to shake a leg with your child with this exciting game from the house of Disney. The upbeat music is bound to make you and your child giggle and wiggle and, in the process, keep you both fit and healthy. In the game, the players imitate and follow the moves being performed by the on-screen Disney characters. This will prove to be an amusing and fun-filled experience for your little one. With a simple scoring system in place, this game is apt for young children who are just getting the hang of using gaming consoles. Plus, it does not require thinking or analysing moves. All your child must do is show off his or her dancing skills.
Platform: Windows, Mac, Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo
Do you love playing board games like Scrabble and Monopoly, with your family? Take this love to the next level with this video game from Hasbro, the board games specialist. You can enjoy classic board games like Connect 4, Boggle, Battleship and many more. Your child will be delighted to know that Mr Potato Head, a popular cartoon character, plays the host in this game. And remember, you don't have to roll the dice, but just press a button.
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Who has not grown up playing Super Mario? It is one of the most popular characters of the gaming world. The sight of Mario jumping up and down, eating mushrooms for growth and killing monsters, has been a hit with children and adults alike for decades. Super Mario Odyssey, the latest from Nintendo's flagship Mario games, is sure to make you nostalgic and take you down memory lane. You can play this with your child and help the iconic Mario rescue Princess Peach from the evil villain Bowser. It is important to note that this game works exclusively on Nintendo Switch and not on any other gaming console like Sony’s PlayStation or Microsoft’s Xbox. The easy controls and the vivid, realistic graphics make this game a sure winner.
Platform: Windows, Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox
Want to go back to the age of dinosaurs with your family? Try the Jurassic World game by Lego. Based on the storyline of the Jurassic Park movie series, this fun game lets your child choose different Dino characters. He can choose to play like a ferocious Tyrannosaurus Rex or a friendly Stegosaurus. Or, he can choose other famous characters like Dr Alan Grant or Owen Grady, who are some of the main characters of the Jurassic Park movie franchise. This game is simple and easy to play. What's more, you can have a lot of fun along with your little champ!
Platform: Windows, Mac, Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo
One of the most popular games of all time, Minecraft lets players mine and build different 3D block buildings such as a house, a castle, a fort and a community hall, using different blocks. This game requires players to build worlds with their skills and imagination. Naturally, it is a great hit with children and adults alike. However, it is safer as a stand-alone single-player game than playing with other players on the server.
Playing video games can be a good pastime for your child, provided you select the right, age-appropriate game. As a parent, try to limit screen time, keep a watch on inappropriate content and you can be sure your child will have a beneficial experience.
Choose family-friendly video games that can educate, entertain and also, stimulate minds. Playing games and competing with others can create lasting memories. Why, this can be a great opportunity to bond and spend time together as a family. Have fun!
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