Many of us (parents and teachers) complain about the amount of time our kids engage with video games. Have you considered why they enjoy it or how they might get similar enjoyment from other things? Below are some reasons our kids play games and some potential alternatives.
Competition – almost everyone enjoys some form of competition and video games provide that. Players get an adrenaline rush fueled by the game. Instead of exercising small muscles in the fingers, try the large muscles with games such as basketball or soccer. Provide an appropriate level of competition, so your child is competing with someone on a similar level.
Achievement – all video games provide some markers showing you’ve reached a new level. We do the same thing at school with students who reached the Kings Wall for achievement in Accelerated Reader or Kahn Academy.As an alternative set reasonable goals in other areas to provide markers of achievement. This could take the form of grades, chores around the house, a group run or walk event, scouting or hobbies.
Risk – much like competition, provides an adrenaline rush. Graphics have become so good on games now, it appears you’re in a live action situation. And virtual reality devices make the experience even more real. Try rock climbing, camping, singing in front of a crowd, giving a speech, or doing something for the first time.
Socialization – in recent years gamers have added the social dimension that has been lacking in the past. Now kids can play with other kids online. What about actually meeting with friends to play games? Retro games such as cards and monopoly are making a comeback.
Of course, not everything about video games is bad. I know several child-parent combos who work together on these games. There are also a few less violent games. However, the violence on most games is staggering. Check it out completely before allowing children to play, and as I've said before, know their passwords.
Blessings on your parenting,
Tim Miesner, Principal