Raising Children with Healthy Video Game Habits
For one of our podcast episodes we spoke to Andy Robertson, the author of Taming Gaming, about how gaming can be a healthy part of family life and the way it can help kids grow spiritually.
To game or not to game?
Maybe that’s not a question in your house – gaming seems to be part of every child’s life. But some of us adults are just catching up, and if, like me, you have never gamed and may have heard some stories about gaming that create fear in you, it can feel daunting for your child to be one step ahead.
One of the things we like to do at Parenting for Faith is draw on the wisdom of experts so we are delighted that Andy has written the following piece for us.
It can be a bit bewildering when your child starts playing video games, a little scary even. But don’t worry, with the right advice and information it can become a healthy part of childhood and even contribute to faith and family life.
I wrote a book, Taming Gaming, to help parents who feel on the back foot with game. This not only outlines what the science says about our fears of gaming – thing like addiction, violence, gambling and strangers – but how to find games that our kids will benefit from playing.
As I said on the podcast, the main thing to do is to engage in this hobby like you do other areas of life. It can require a bit of homework but soon starts making sense. My top tips for getting started are:
- Talk to your child about they games they play (some strategies for this in the book).
- Try some games yourself to see what they are like.
- Watch and listen to your child while they are playing.
- Research what games are available to find experiences they may love (and you’d love them to have).
I run a database for parents to help you with this. It’s a goldmine of amazing games and information. Here are some examples:
- Abzu – an adventure in a lush underwater world. You descend into the heart of the ocean to find ancient secrets and encounter majestic creatures. This combines the beautiful weightlessness of diving with an ancient story of meaning and place in the world.
- Wilmot’s Warehouse – This is a game for people who like to organise things. You are in charge of a warehouse and must manage 100s of items of stock. These identical square boxes are labelled with rudimentary icons. On your own or with another player, you must decipher what each icon depicts and invent ways to categorise them. Customers then appear wanting specific combinations of products and you have limited time to find and deliver them.
- Bury Me, My Love – Don’t be put off by the name and theme of this intriguing game, an adventure played by choosing responses in what looks like a messaging app. You take the role of the husband of a Syrian migrant travelling to Europe. As the game unfolds in real time, her messages pop up on your phone throughout the day. Choosing the different answers to her questions influences the decisions she makes and the path of her journey. Each play-through results in a different journey and one of 20 different endings.
- That Dragon, Cancer – A game about a family with a young son who has terminal brain cancer. It sounds off-putting and morbid but this living biography invites you to join the family and find hope, faith and love in the face of an insurmountable challenge. It’s a unique collage of poetry, phone calls, diagnosis rooms and home movies full of raw emotion.
More information can also be found on these sites that help you set limits and understand how to control spending:
To keep in touch with Andy’s views and advice on new developments in gaming, you can check out his website here.
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