Gaming is a big concern for a lot of parents and teachers, but it doesn’t have to be. Gaming can foster critical thinking skills, collaboration, and can also be an excellent stress buster. The video game industry has a very bright future with a lot of job opportunities, and gamers are being used more and more in the field of science research.
Of course, like most of our other tech distractions, it can become an issue if it’s not used in moderation.
What is moderation when it comes to gaming? Well, there’s a lot of debate about that, and it really comes down to the individual child. Watch for signs that it’s interfering with other parts of their lives or if they get agitated (not just normal kid agitated, but a more extreme version) if you try and monitor it. If you’re really concerned, check the indicators coming out from the new DSM.
Again… don’t jump to conclusions if a 12 year-old boy is playing an hour or so of Minecraft after he’s done with his homework. But if you’ve got a middle school or high school student who keeps nodding off in class, you might want to check for the signs. Chances are if you get the conversation going, you’ll find out soon enough who’s struggling.
Remind the kids that there’s a reason that most of those MMORPG games (World of Warcraft, League of Legends, etc.) are rated 13 and over.
We’re not talking about Mario Cart here.
These games are unbeatable, designed to be infinitely entertaining, and updates roll out about once every two months. With their still developing pre-frontal cortexes, most teenagers are simply not capable of pulling away once they get hooked (which is why most of those games will offer a free trial before they ask you to pay with a credit card).
Here’s a great series from CNN that takes a balanced look at video game addiction and can be a starting point for a debate with a high school or middle school class.
Don’t be reactionary. This isn’t a “Just Say No” issue like alcohol or drugs. Show the video, get the discussion going, and make sure you stay open to their opinions. If they feel like you appreciate the positive sides of gaming, they’re much more likely to let you know if it’s becoming an issue for them or any of their friends.