There’s no doubt about it – video games are a great source of entertainment and education for kids and adults alike. But too much gaming can be detrimental to kids. Video games have often been blamed for aggressive behavior in children, childhood obesity and poor grades,and can grow to become a highly addictive habit.Studies show that kids play video games for 1.5 hours on an average everyday, but spend only about 38 minutes reading books or other forms of print media.Since video and computer games are here to stay,you might as well make the best of them.
Here care some tried-and-tested tips to help your kids develop healthy gaming habits:
- Limit gaming time. If gaming is a form of family recreation that you enjoy along with your kids, it can be hard to set time limits. But 1 ½ hours of playing computer games is generally considered to be ample by experts. If your child is playing by himself, 1-2 hours of game time is a good solid number that should never be stretched.
- Treat gaming time as a privilege that your child needs to earn; an activity that is allowed only after homework and chores are completed.
- Make sure the room in which you have the computer has lots of other entertainment – toys, books, board games, etc.–so that your child can choose to do something else other than playing games.
- Monitor the kind of games that your child plays. Encourage him to play games that also offer educational value – like fun reading games, cool math, free science games, etc.
- Don’t forget to keep the computer in a common family area rather thanin your child’s bedroom. If your child is very young, do not let him have a laptop and do not allow him to take your laptop in his bedroom to play games.
- Do not allow your child to play games during meals or other activities.
- It is easy (and tempting) to reach out for those cheesy greasy snacks when you are engrossed in gaming. Make sure you provide healthy munchies (such as fresh veggies and fruit juice) for your kids to snack on when they play.
- Establish parental controls. Almost every game console has these built-in controls to filter offensive content and regulate gaming time. Use them effectively.
- Strike a balance with physical activity. Most kids would never stop gaming if they could help it, but you must encourage them to mix it up with regular physical activities they enjoy.It could be hiking, riding a bike, going for a swim, playing with the neighborhood kids or starting up a game of baseball – 1 hour of daily physical activity is necessary to keep your child healthy and fit, games or no games.
- Go for active gaming. Playing video or computer games need not be a sedentary activity. Encourage your child to play motion-sensing ‘active’ games such as Dance Dance Revolution or Just Dance. Most active games are very easy to learn and are perfect for introducing your non-gaming child to the world of computer and video gaming.
Online gaming can be a fun and enriching experience. Help your child make the most of the benefits that gaming can offer with these useful tips and ideas.