Blue Suit Mom

How Moms & Teens Can Call a Truce on Video Game Usage

shutterstock_218498467Most families with teens can identify with the push and pull that accompanies discussions around video games. If you’re the teen, you don’t understand why your parents seemingly want to limit your fun. If you’re the parents, you’re concerned about striking the balance between setting proper boundaries while still allowing your teen to enjoy a favorite hobby. Luckily, video games are one area that doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Here are three ways to get your whole family on board as far as video games go.

Veer Away from Violence

All video games are not created equally. Some are more competitive than others, some are more intellectually challenging and some are more graphic than others. The BBC reported on a study conducted by Canada’s Brock University that found that engaging with violent video games contributes to a delayed sense of right and wrong and a lack of empathy among users. So how do you avoid this effect on your teen?

Draw a line with violence. The tipping point for each family may differ, so decide what’s too much for your family. Does a certain war game include more strategy than gore? Perhaps it’s OK in small doses. Does your family feel that the presence of artillery in a particular game is desensitizing your teen to the consequences of violence? Then it’s your call as the parent to explain your reasoning for keeping those types of games out of your home. There are many game options that are not violence-ridden, like the sports, puzzle and quest games. Whatever you decide is too much, stick with your intuition and be clear in your boundaries.

Incorporate Physical Activity

Video games as a solitary pursuit and played while sitting on a couch are not necessarily the norm any more. And that’s good news for your and your children’s health. More and more games challenge physical coordination as much as mental stamina. Take, for instance, Xbox One—if you already have one of these consoles, you can easily add a Kinect sensor to get your whole body in on the action. Games include sports, dance, fitness and even themes like Star Wars. You’ll stay active while offering your teen a healthy, non-violent alternative to his favorite pastime.

Make It a Family Affair

Part of the appeal of gaming is the social connection that can arise as a part of it. Is your family crazy about football? With a game like “Madden NFL,” you can challenge one another to friendly competitions. Find a creative way to tie your game play into the real football season, and you can end up with a multidimensional, months-long game out of it. By playing games that appeal to everyone, you’ll forge a connection between your family members and keep game playing alive as something everyone can participate in.

As a parent, you want your teens to have fun and enjoy the activities they loves. But you also feel compelled to set reasonable boundaries that protect them from deleterious effects of violent games. By being intentional and having honest discussions about how much violence is too much, and suggesting healthy substitutes that include friends, family, and physical activity, your teen and you can finally be united in your approach to video gaming. And the best part? You’re sure to have fun together along the way.

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