We all have busy lives, sometimes it is a relief to have our kids occupied with video games, apps and YouTube. Now, more than ever, though, it is very important that we check in to see what digital content our children are consuming, as well as how they are using their devices and who they are connecting with.
First off, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is an excellent resource for you to refer to when deciding whether or not a video game is appropriate for your child. The following chart that they provide is an easy reference.
At our school, we are very concerned about our students playing games that are rated M and above. These games should never be played by our students or around our students.
Now, you may not buy games that are rated M or above but your children may be watching inappropriate videos on YouTube related to games rated M or above. Or the game may be rated for your child to play, but the language used by the host of the video may be inappropriate. To find appropriate videos for your children to watch, just do a search of “family friendly” with the name of the game you are interested in. In particular, here are some family friendly YouTube channels on Minecraft. I personally love watching Stampy and Paul Soares Jr. with my family.
Another area to be concerned about are mods. Mods are apps or software that, when uploaded, modify the game in various ways. For example, a great game like Minecraft can be turned into a violent game through mods that add guns, blood, zombies, etc. Monitor the mods that your children are downloading onto your devices.
Online gaming opens a whole world of exciting and concerning possibilities. There are some games that allow for connecting with others through online chatting and game play. It is fun to play with friends and distant family members online, but it is easy to connect with strangers who aren’t who they say they are. If you allow online game play, limit the options of players only to who all of you know and preferably have met in person.
Finally, the amount of screen time our children are exposed to can drastically impact their sleep patterns, behaviour and relationships. Set limits to how much time your children are playing video games and do not allow any screen time for at least an hour before bed time.