When and how often should children be allowed to play video games?
From Melisa Thorne:
At ages 2 and 5, my children are too young for video games.
We don’t own a video gaming device nor do we plan to own one in the immediate future. I feel that costs of video games far exceed their entertainment value. I also feel that even the games that are advertised as “educational” or “inspire physical activity” pale in comparison to reading books and playing outside. Thus it is for these reasons that I don’t support the use of video games for my family.
Despite my vehement opposition to video games, I live in a society where they exist and my children will be exposed to them.
If a time ever comes that we would have video games in our home, I will use the same principles and discipline that I use to monitor my children’s TV time and computer use. Here are some examples:
1) Video game activity is limited to one hour a day. The limit is one hour. Not a minute more.
2) They can only play games that are age appropriate.
3) No Video games when the sun is up. I know I’ve said this before in earlier Moms Council articles and it’s worth repeating. When the weather is nice we go outside and play. In the dead of winter when it was impossible to play outdoors for more than a few minutes at a time, we did a lot of activities indoors such as crafting, playing hide and seek, dressing up and cooking.
4) Practice what you preach. If you’re limiting your child’s video game usage, then you should follow the same principles and set the right example. No sneaking in the other room to use the computer while the kids are playing and this includes use of smart phones.
5) Be consistent. Both parents need to be on the same page when enforcing your household rules and restrictions.
From Pallavi (Prajakta) Shastri:
Yes, I think every parent should monitor their kid’s video game usage!
I think playing video games is like watching TV and it should be monitored and controlled. To guard against the possibility of violent content, every parent should keep an eye on the content of the game the kids are playing. Nowadays I think this is the basic step everyone is following, there is nothing much to say about it.
Another thing that I like to watch out for is the time kids are spending playing these games. During winter, when they have limited outdoor activities, playing video games can be fun, but I strongly believe that playing games for a one hour a day is more than reasonable. Also, I try to limit the game playing activity to two days a week on a school night during the week.
My family is pretty basic in the area of video games. We only have the Nintendo Wii and nothing else. Fortunately, my kids are also not demanding other stuff, they are just happy with the Wii.
My kids are allowed to play the Wii, but my husband and I choose the games. Mostly they can play simple games like racing, tennis, baseball or boxing. It’s a good idea to choose the games that promote physical activity. My son is sweating after he plays boxing. I am thinking about getting some yoga stuff for my daughter and I, as it will be great fun and a quality bonding activity for both of us.
One thing I want to note here is my husband and I do not encourage the activity of playing video games at a very early age, so we bought the Wii when my older daughter was seven years old. I think it was a very nice thing that she got the Wii that late.
Like many experts out there, I believe that too much video game play affects our attention span. So it’s better for the kids to go out and play in the open air than playing video games. Only when its not possible weather-wise or due to any other inevitable cause, kids can play video games as fun, time-passing activities. I would choose any activity involving some physical exercise like swimming or gymnastics over playing video games.
From Christa Ciccia:
I do allow my children to play age appropriate video games. I would like to stress the age appropriate subject.
Few occurrences make me as upset as hearing 11 year olds talking about mature video games. Two offenders come to mine: “Call of Duy: Black Ops” and “Grand Theft Auto.” The parental guidance markers are there for a reason. The “M” rating is for mature audiences and that means the game is intended for those over 17. There is also a “Y-10” rating, which means games are intended for 10 year olds and over.
My personal favorite is the “E” rating. This means the game is appropriate for all ages. Learn them, live them. No 11 year old is mature enough to handle the violence and crude language that are commonplace in “M” level games.
With that being said, video games are acceptable on weekends for one hour a day. It has been my experience that anything more than that literally scrambles their brains. If there is time during the week it is allowed, but there is rarely a minute to spare between homework and sports.
If a parent is thinking about investing in a video game console, I would suggest the Nintendo Wii or the Wii Fit Plus. These consoles come with family-friendly games that promote physical fitness and agility.