Here’s a fun fact: Video games can be used as a parenting tool. It’s called “active mediation.” The idea is that by playing alongside your kids you can help them understand the media they’re using and even impart some life lessons.
How can video games help you teach life lessons?
The reality is that most kids play video games. According to CNET, 91% of kids between the ages of two and 17 play. It’s a source of fun, competition, and even social currency. It can also be an opportunity for you to bond with your child.
Because it’s unlikely your children will abstain from video games altogether, many child experts recommend playing with your children and acting as a media mentor. According to Jenny Radesky, MD, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement, Media and Young Minds, “That means teaching them how to use it as a tool to create, connect and learn.”
If you have younger children, video games can be helpful for engaging with them. When you play with your child, it allows you to ensure they’re using the game appropriately and understand the messaging.
You’re also able to utilize the game to reinforce larger values, like the importance of working together and the idea of not quitting just because something is hard. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, “It’s a good way to demonstrate good sportsmanship and gaming etiquette.” It also provides a chance for you to have fun with your child.
If you have a teen or tween, they’re much less likely to want you to help them navigate their digital world. However, if you’re able to play with them, it can provide a commonality that will encourage further conversations.
Even if you’re only an observer, you can ask, “What do you like about this game?” or “How have you improved?” or simply cheer them on. The idea is that you’re actively participating in something important to your child.
“Don’t just monitor children online, interact with them – you can understand what they are doing and be a part of it,” according to recommendations from the AAP.
Video games will almost inevitably be part of your child’s life. They may also be an opportunity to connect and help your child navigate their role as a digital citizen.