It seems like almost every child has a device to play games.
Games have replaced physical toys and books as must-have Christmas and birthday presents.
But with so many scare stories about the effects of games on children’s development, especially those that contain violence, should you ban them in your household? What are the consequences of the digital entertainment take-over?
So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of games for kids, check out fun, educational alternatives to violent games and offers tips to help integrate game-playing into your kids’ lives in a sensible way.
When a new form of media becomes as popular as computer games have, there is inevitably a lot of public scrutiny on its potential impact. There have been a lot of recent studies and many outcries about possible links between computer games and violent behaviour.
Studies do link violent games with an increase in aggression after playing, at least in the short term – from 15 mins to an hour.
So does that mean you should ban your kids from playing games? It’s not that simple.
There are alternative studies which show many benefits to playing games. Games improve cognitive skills, such as problem solving, planning, reading, maths, concentration and memory to name a few. They can also boost hand-eye co-ordination. Used sensibly, games can be a highly valuable learning tool for children.
As with most things, it is a matter of striking a balance. Doing anything to the exclusion of everything else is not healthy. Make sure your child engages in a number of different activities so that they are not sat in front of a computer screen all hours of the day. Mix physical play and social interaction with games so they have a broad range of interests to learn from.
If your child is super-keen on games, use them as a reward for good behaviour and don’t be afraid to restrict usage if homework or other chores are not completed.
Games come with age recommendations too. Ensure you follow these guidelines when buying new games for your child; otherwise they may end up with age-inappropriate content.
If you feel your child is too young or sensitive to play violent games, there are a number of excellent non-violent games to choose from. Four of the best are:
The best way to describe Minecraft is digital LEGO with bells on. It is a hugely popular sandbox game where players mine for resources and then build vast structures in online worlds. It’s a great tool for nurturing a child’s creativity and artistic sensibilities.
Puzzle platform games are one of the best ways to help improve a child’s reasoning and logical thought. FEZ is a fantastic example of the genre and is set in a 3D world but with a 2D view. Navigating around the world forms a large part of the puzzles and helps with spacial awareness.
These epic strategy games let you take control of famous empires, from the Stone Age to the modern era. You found cities, research technologies, trade and build armies. It is educational on a range of subjects including science and history.
Only available on the PlayStation, Journey is a beautiful game with philosophical overtones. It transcends its simplicity with a great theme. The online component means other players show up and you can help each other through the most difficult parts.
Aurore Balmay is a freelance writer and regular contributor to www.australia.for-sale.com