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Gaming: How To Handle It In Your Home

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If your teenager is showing an interest in gaming, it’s probably best to embrace, rather than resist it. Fortunately, there are many benefits to gaming, and it can be a happy part of your home. It’s finally happened. Your teenager has asked for a gaming console for Christmas, or maybe they’ve borrowed one from a friend and the dreaded device is already in your house. But if you think that gaming is going to cause your child to become an antisocial layabout with a vitamin D deficiency, it’s time to educate yourself on what gaming’s all about. The reality is that it comes with many benefits, and there are ways to make sure that it becomes a happy and productive activity in your home.

The pros of gaming

Video and computer games have come a long way since Pac-Man and Space Invaders. Today’s games are complex and interactive and the mental stimulation they provide can have tangible cognitive benefits.

  • Studies suggest that gaming enhances creativity, much more so than working generally on computers or mobile phones, or simply surfing the Internet. Children are stimulated by the storytelling component of most games, and can learn valuable visual-spatial skills.
  • Gaming can improve hand-eye coordination. Many games prioritise quick-thinking and fast reaction times. Learning these skills in the virtual world has been shown to have positive off-screen benefits, too.
  • Figuring out how to get out of sticky situations and move on to the next level requires attention, concentration and exceptional problem-solving skills. Although you might not realise it, your child’s brain is in top gear.

Creating a happy gaming environment

To make sure that your child (and you) reaps these benefits, there are a few simple tactics that you can introduce into your home:

  • Hop on the gaming bandwagon yourself. Rather than causing antisocial behaviour, gaming actually enhances social interaction when players compete against one another – either in person or online. Playing games with your teenager can be a great bonding experience and gives you the opportunity to monitor what sorts of games they’re playing. (It’s also sure to up your street cred!)
  • Introduce time limits. Although your child might be resistant to this initially, being consistent with how long they’re permitted to play for helps to create a regular routine. Consoles can help with this: many, including Xbox and PlayStation, have time limit settings that parents and guardians can manage.
  • Use gaming as a reward for time spent completing chores or being outdoors. This serves both parties: you feel happier that your child is still helping around the house or getting some fresh air by mowing the lawn, and your child gets some much-wanted screen time.

If your kid is into gaming, resisting it or banning it completely is only likely to make your home tense and unhappy. Rather embrace it, moderate it and manage it. This new interest could work to both of your advantages.

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