A parent’s guide to kids and video games

A parent’s guide to kids and video games

“I can’t PAUSE, you don’t just PAUSE! This is the most important bit!”

If you’re a 21st century parent, then you’ve probably heard these words before. Video games are a part of life, as are the many excuses our kids come up with to stay glued to their devices…

But it’s not all bad. Video games have been proven to boost a variety of skillsets in kids. And that is music to our brick-built ears.

What with all their positives and negatives, we thought we’d come up with a complete parent’s guide to video games for kids. This will include gaming safety tips for parents who are looking to find a balance of video gaming in their household.

Press start to begin…

How video games can help your kid’s skill development

Firstly, can video games actually boost development… or is it just a rumor created by our kids?

Sensory and motor skills

Well, a 2014 study by the University of Toronto found gamers were more likely to learn sensorimotor skills than non-gamers. (Now, of course, we all know what sensorimotor skills means, naturally, but IN CASE you didn’t, it’s “the coupling of the sensory system and motor system, such as riding a bike or typing”).

Such skills depend on excellent hand-eye coordination. And the more we develop our motor and sensory skills, the better our coordination becomes (just ask babies…). The fact that video games bolster such skills is a good advert for their potential benefits.

Emotional skills and problem-solving

LEGO® Brawls

Video games also boost kids’ emotional skills, given that they immerse them in long-form narratives filled with fascinating characters, fantastical locations, and twists and turns written by some of the world’s most renowned storytellers.

They’re also proven to improve problem-solving skills... because that’s what video games essentially are: a presentation of increasingly difficult problems the gamer needs to solve, like LEGO® Builder’s Journey.

LEGO Builder’s Journey

Social skills

Rather more surprisingly, today’s video games provide a big boost to children’s social skills. We say ‘surprising’, because it’s strange to think of an activity where you’re alone in a room as ‘social’. But, of course, modern-day online multiplayer games act as a platform to collaborate (and hang out) with friends.

It might not stir quite the same nostalgia as our old-fashioned definition of ‘multiplayer’ where we crammed into the bedroom of whoever owned the most useable controllers. On the flip side, it probably means kids can spend more time with their friends than we ever were able to as youngsters.

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How to find a healthy balance when it comes to gaming

So yes, video games are great. So great... that they become addictive. Particularly for young kids who aren’t so keenly aware of ‘too much of a good thing’.

Setting fair boundaries

Introducing gaming time limits or even inputting Parental Controls onto your gaming console are effective ways to curb game time, though you do risk casting yourself as Evil Overseer; Controller of Time and Fun. Here are some tips on how to keep kids safe online

Bring video games offline with LEGO® sets

Another solution to screen time balance can be found in our video-game-related products (you knew it was coming...).

What we try to do, is take the things that make video games exciting and addictive – characters, settings, narratives – and bring them offline, into the palm of kids’ hands. The storytelling possibilities are thus expanded to allow kids to break beyond the ‘confines’ of even the most open-world of games, like Minecraft®.

But we’ve found that the thing that kids really appreciate is the ability to challenge their friends or family using our sets.

All this helps kids stay in game mode (which is what they want), while avoiding getting square eyes (which is what we want).

Need more tips? Here’s how to make screen time more positive.

Benefits of playing video games as a family

One downside of multiplayer moving online, is that it’s harder for us to join in with our kids, making it more difficult for family gaming nights.

Well, it might surprise you, but we at the LEGO Group are pretty focused on families. It’s why our LEGO video games for PC and consoles are designed for split screen co-op play – check them out here.

Throughout our collection of video game titles, gameplay is enhanced with two players, because we like the idea of kids asking parents for help, to make video gaming a shared activity.

However, although we can give you plenty of gaming safety tips, we’ll struggle more on giving you parents any gaming advice. The cruel reality is you’ll probably be humiliated by your much-younger-than-you child’s superior abilities.

But as you’re gaming on the couch alongside them, we think you’ll get over it, somehow…

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