By Emily, Guest Contributor to TechAddiction
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are solely those of the author and are not necessarily the views of TechAddiction and/or Dr. Conrad.
Today some of the most popular gifts for children are video games. As kids spend more time interacting with screens, parents must be sure that the games they choose for their kids are safe, fun and affordable. Video games should certainly not be your child's primary form of entertainment, but if you do allow for occasional gaming time, please keep the following points in mind. Here are the top eight ways to choose family friendly games that don't break the bank.
1. Read Reviews
One of the best way to find a suitable game for your child is to read reviews from other parents. Just search for the titles you are interested in online and you will often find a wide range of reviews from parents just like you. One great source for video game reviews for parents is Common Sense Media. Of note, they also provide kid-focused reviews of movies, apps, websites, television shows, books, and music.
2. Check The Rating
Be sure to check that the games you choose are rated to suit the age of your child. Games from stores are age rated using the ESRB rating classification system - ranging from "EC" (Early Childhood) all the way to "AO" (Adults Only) so be sure to choose accordingly. One of the most common mistakes parents make is to allow "M" rated games (Mature) for children and young teens. Not only do these games have inappropriate content (intense violence, sexual content, strong language) for this age range, games in the M-rated category may also be highly addictive for some children (for example, the Call of Duty and Halo series).
3. Choose Free Games
The best games for kids may be based on your child's favourite TV shows. These are often free and as an added bonus, you generally know that the games are age-appropriate (but be sure to check the ESRB rating regardless). Often they can be found online - saving you the hassle of going to the shops.
4. Play Games With Your Child
A good way of understanding the impact of a video game on your child is to play with them. Learn how the game works, if it is educational and if it is child-friendly. Once you yourself are familiar with the game, you will feel more at ease with your child playing it by him or herself. This point cannot be overstated: If you allow your child to play video games, you must monitor and actively observe what they play!
5. Choose From Your Child's Interests
Does your child love sports? Perhaps they are more into art or love watching morning cartoons. Finding games that match their interests encourage them to develop their favourite hobby; a soccer game for the sporty child gives them a chance to practice on and off the field and games based on favorite shows or books allows them to explore their favourite fantasy world in more detail - just make sure that games are an occasional compliment to the "real-world" activity, not a replacement for it!
6. Control Game Time
Giving your child boundaries around playing video games gives them an appropriate way to enjoy the game. They look forward to their game time and as a bonus, this helps you monitor their gaming intake. Gaming should never come before responsibilities around the home, schoolwork, family time, or formal extracurricular activities. For most children and teens, 60 to 90 minutes per day of video games (after other responsibilities have been attended to) is more than enough.
7. Avoid Gaming Addiction
Most children are not able to set appropriate limits on their video gaming time, nor are they able to see the importance of having a healthy balance of various activities in their lives. This is normal. However knowing this, parents must assume responsibility for keeping video game habits under control. Children and teens do become addicted to video games. Never allow a computer or gaming system in a child's room and if they are showing signs of obsessive play, do not ignore it - do something about it as soon as possible.
8. Pick A Variety Of Games
Pick a variety of games, so that your child can enjoy both educational games and games that are purely for fun. This gives them a chance to indulge their gaming passion whilst learning and giving you peace of mind.
Choosing video games can be difficult for parents who aren't familiar with technology. Always read reviews and choose games that you can play with your child. Encouraging social gaming by playing with them, letting them interact with games based on their favourite hobbies, and making sure games never come before healthy real-world activities is in the best interest of both child and parent.
Guest Author Bio
Ms. Emily writes regularly on family friendly outings and activities for a range of websites and blogs. She enjoys spending time with her children and husband.
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