Let’s be honest, parents and kids don’t always get along. One of the most common causes for arguments tend to be video games. Many parents, particularly those who don’t play video games, are reluctant to let their kids play games over concern over their content or just for screen time.
However, kids and parents don’t have to fight so much, as there are plenty of resources that can help both parties come to an agreement, creating a more nuanced set of house rules for games.
Here’s some info that’ll help parents understand video games and their content. This isn’t your policy on game time, or allowance for gaming, but just on choosing the games, whether the latest releases or cheap games, themselves. Once you know what games can be played, then you can work on when they can be played.
There are more than just first-person shooters like Call of Duty and crime simulators like Grand Theft Auto. There are plenty of games that have minimal violence, with some of them having pretty much no violence whatsoever.
Low violence options tend to be mobile games, puzzle games like Portal (which is a first-person puzzler), and building games like The Sims or Planet Coaster.
PEGI for the EU, ESRB for the US, CERO for Japan. These are the ratings boards that assesses the age appropriateness of games based on their content and interactive elements; looking at things like plot, visuals, language, etc. It’s not a precise assessment, but it’ll give you a good idea of where to start. Anything that doesn’t cover your kid’s age range is immediately a no-no.
Try it for yourself
David Bickham, PhD, from The Center on Media and Child Health and Harvard Medical School Pediatrics instructor recommends that parents try a game to get a grasp of how appropriate it is for their kids. This is great, as it also tells your kids that you’re taking interest in what they like, if only to make sure you’re safe, maybe, but still. Less of an issue for parents that play games themselves, definitely. For those that don’t play or can’t, then there are gameplay videos and streams on YouTube and Twitch.
There’s a reason that ESRB ratings come with the disclosure: “Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB”. That’s because they can’t control what people are exposed to when in contact with other people online. That’s why you, as a parent, need to check if the game has an open chat, or talk to your kids about playing without chat. The best option for these multiplayer games is to limit online interaction and encourage your kids to play with local friends.
Know your kid
This is one of the most important things to consider when getting a game for your kid. What does your kid like? What might upset, frighten or negatively impact them; there’s a lot of cheap games in the market, so you have plenty of options to find content that works for your kids.