Tips for safe online gaming part 3

Posted on June 5, 2014

Here’s the last instalment of this three-part listicle, following on from Part 1 and Part 2.

9. Balance gaming with other activities

Sure, gaming is extremely fun and engaging but it’s not all there is to life. Encourage balance in all things: gaming is a great activity to relax after some strenuous physical activity, and it’s a fantastic incentive to use to encourage working hard at school or community activities. Boundaries are essential here: encourage choice within defined parameters, and slowly build the gamer’s capacity to self-regulate their gaming and structure their own gaming activities. Taking breaks from gaming is essential for all kinds of psychological and health reasons, and can enhance the enjoyment of returning to the game.

Motion detection peripherals example

Games using motion detection peripherals can be a good way of combining games and physical activity

 10. Observe classification recommendations

This might seem like a bit of a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how often the system seems too complex or not quite right for given cases. The classification system does seem a bit conservative: everything other than pure “G” games are recommended with caution for children under 15. However, if a game is not restricted, it simply means that a parent or legal guardian is recommended to look into the game and the reasons for its classification, and to perhaps observe the child playing to be able to talk through any mature themes or experiences that come out of it. There are some games that are simply not appropriate for younger players, and even if the definition of ‘younger’ appears flexible, this recommendation is there for a reason.

 11. Talk about gaming safely, within and between families

Of course a family’s own experience it its own best guide, but we can also learn a lot from talking with other families, parents, and groups about the best way to ensure healthy and positive gaming on and offline. We must not underestimate the value of talking through these issues within families: of course, it’s not a democracy, and no matter how articulately your 12-year old implores you to let them play GTAV it may  not be wise to allow it. But by having an open discussion about these matters we involve everyone in the process, and we may find we learn more from each other than from any apparent ‘authority’ on the subject.

 12. Remember it’s just a game

Ultimately, if things get too fraught, gamers should remember that it’s just a game and the purpose is to have fun. (This is not directly helpful advice during an episode of rage quit, though…) Of course, the excitement and stress of facing challenging encounters can be fun as well, but if the gameplay experience is overwhelmingly negative, then there’s something wrong. Build strategies for reflecting on gaming and developing more and more positive structures for getting the most out of the gaming experience.

Rage Quit Pie Chart


So that’s it for the ‘tips’ posts – what do you think? Do any of these resonate with you; do you disagree; or are there others you think are useful? Post in the comments below!


2 Replies to "Tips for safe online gaming part 3"

  • Maeve Deery
    June 12, 2014 (2:49 am)

    Great tips!
    Number 12 is a particularly important point to consider and possibly the most challenging. It’s easy to become immersed in a computer based simulated environment, and some children do so to the extent that the virtual world becomes their reality. They lose track of time and become emotionally involved, overlooking the fact that it is just a game. I’ve seen my children do this, making life for me somewhat testy at times! It can be difficult working out a strategy to deal with these issues, and every parent has different views as to what should be considered acceptable. For me one of the most challenging/difficult aspects has always been the time which my children spend playing a game, especially when there are other priorities at stake. I can imagine that this resonates with many other parents too. To some extent it does help to discuss this with children, but it’s really only as they mature and start to self-regulate that it becomes less of a problem. It’s only then that they can truly start to take control of their emotions. In the interim though, it is important to guide children so that they can enjoy their video games without sacrificing the necessary balance of life!

    • Chad Habel
      June 12, 2014 (10:33 am)

      Thanks Maeve – that’s a really good point,it’s easy for me to forget how challenging it can become, but it’s good to hear that it becomes easier with time. Wow, this is certainly something families didn’t have to deal with 100 years ago! I think that ‘guidance’ idea is a really good way of putting it, but wow I bet that’s hard.

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