Gaming is a popular activity across the globe. Studies have shown that more than one billion people across the globe play some type of video game every day, and the number of gamers is growing every day. In fact, the market and consumer data provider Statista estimates there will be 2.7 billion gamers by 2021.
Such prevalence can make it hard for parents to govern their youngsters’ gaming habits. As difficult as it can be to get kids to put their controllers down, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that time spent gaming can take away from the time kids spend on other pursuits, including healthy activities like exercising and reading. That’s part of the reason why the AAP recommends limiting the time kids spend gaming to no more than one hour per day.
In addition to limiting how much time kids spend gaming, parents can take these steps to make sure kids’ gaming experiences are as positive as possible.
Familiarize yourself with a game’s content before allowing kids to play it. Parents should be concerned by how long their youngsters play video games, and also by the content of those games. First-person shooter games remain incredibly popular, but such games can have an adverse effect on young players. The AAP notes that studies have shown that children exposed to virtual violence, such as that depicted in first-person shooter games, and violent media have shown that they may become numb to violence and even imitate the violence. Parents should always vet a game before allowing their children to play it. Make sure its content is not too mature and/or violent for children.
Confirm ESRB ratings. Parents of young children likely don’t allow their youngsters to watch R-rated films, but they might not know that a similar rating system exists for video games. ESRB ratings help parents make informed decisions about the video games and the apps their children play. The ratings, which are broken down at www.esrb.org, are included on game packaging labels and let parents know how appropriate or inappropriate a game may be for children. Founded by the Interactive Digital Software Association in 1994, the ESRB notes that 61 percent of its ratings for physical and console downloadable video games in 208 were rated either E (Everyone) or E10+ (Everyone 10+). That means parents of children under 10 have many age-appropriate game options when buying games for their kids.
Keep consoles in common areas. By limiting gaming to common areas in the home, parents can more closely monitor how much time their youngsters are spending playing games. The AAP recommends parents designate handheld games as “family property” as opposed to items each child “owns.” This can help parents make sure such devices are kept in common areas at all times.
Play with children. Another way parents can monitor what their kids are playing and how long they’re playing for is to play with them. Multiple player games are very popular, and parents can use that popularity to more effectively manage their kids’ gaming habits. And it can be some good bonding time.
Did you know?
Gaming might seem like an unlikely topic to find its way into political discourse, but that’s precisely what happened in 2019 when American presidential candidate Andrew Yang discussed loot boxes.
Loot boxes, which have been included in many popular games, ask players who have already purchased the games to spend even more money to purchase randomized digital content, such as player outfits and weapons, that can be used by gamers. In theory, the boxes can make the games more engaging. However, the returns on the boxes are random, meaning gamers don’t know what’s in them before purchasing them. That has led some lawmakers, and even presidential candidates like Yang, to question the practice of including loot boxes in games, with some even suggesting that the practice is no different than gambling. Loot boxes have drawn the attention of the Federal Trade Commission, an American watchdog group that vowed to investigate the process. In addition, some countries have taken measures to protect gamers from loot boxes. That includes Belgium, which has outlawed loot boxes, and China, which has attempted to make the process more transparent by forcing companies to disclose the odds to gamers before they purchase the boxes.