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Computer Games: Parental Guidelines

by Paul Wilson

reprinted with permission: first published in Metamorphosis: Tools for Transformation a weekly newsletter by Peter Shepard www.trans4mind.com

Many children spend at 13-30 hours a week gaming. Most computer games are violent and aggressive and do little to inculcate moral values. Studies indicate that gaming results in aggressiveness and violent responses in children. And, children are less concerned and helpful towards their peers and families. They become socially stunted.

The onus of minimizing these effects and ensuring that children receive a rounded upbringing falls on parents. It is important to introduce character building activities and to censor games when necessary, ensuring suitability.

Study the guidelines established by the Entertainment Software Board. They indicate suitability for different age groups. Read the content label which will summarize the game; this will serve as an appropriateness guideline. Visit www.ESRB.com which provides game ratings as well as reviews.

Know your child. If you find any signs of being unsettled, withdraw the games that cause this change in behavior. Feel free to contact the manufacturer and voice your opinion. Introduce games that titillate the imagination and make use of the mind. Avoid violence and aggression. Instead encourage games that are fun and have a degree of effective learning. Use games to maximize your child's interests. If the child is mechanical minded purchase games that encourage this talent. Choose games that require decisions and strategies. Games should be more than shoot, blow up, destroy, and kill!

Set up the computer and gaming console in a family room. All games will then be out in the open. You will be in a position to judge and monitor. Playing games should be a privilege not a right. Emphasize that parental approval is a must. Explain why a game is not to be played. Never just take away a game. A child needs to understand why you are against playing certain games.

Rent a game and play it yourself. First hand knowledge will serve you well. Play the games with your child. Know their reactions and learn their responses. Establish an open relationship where your child becomes comfortable even talking about what is inappropriate or disturbing. Interact with your child at all levels. Establish gently what is right and wrong. Bullying does not help.

Communicate with other parents. You will glean the trends, know the popularity. Focus on social and emotional development. The child must be confident, curious, and forthright; display self control; be able to relate linearly, be caring and cooperative, and be communicative. Introducing games that require two or more players helps foster social interaction.

Gaming is a part of modern life. It introduces computer technology, problem solving, and logic. It improves motor as well as spatial skills. Games are not just entertaining, they can be therapeutic too. Choose wisely and guide your child to obtain the benefits of computer games and not the negative effects.

Paul Wilson is the content manager for 1888 Free Online Games.com , the premier website to play thousands of free online games, including arcade games, action games, card games, flash games, strategy games, puzzle games and more.

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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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