Monitoring and moderating the content and duration of video game exposure for children involves active parental involvement. Here are some ways for parents to do so:
- Familiarise yourself with the content: Take the time to understand the content of the video games your child plays. Read reviews, explore online resources, and play the games yourself if possible. This will help you make informed decisions about their appropriateness and potential impact.
- Set clear rules and expectations: Establish clear rules and expectations regarding video game usage. Communicate these rules to your child and ensure they understand them. Rules may include specific time limits, designated play times, and guidelines for appropriate content.
- Use parental control features: Many gaming platforms and devices offer parental control features. Utilise these features to restrict access to age-inappropriate content, set playtime limits, and manage in-game purchases. Familiarise yourself with these controls and implement them according to your child’s needs.
- Create a central gaming area: Designate a central location in your home for gaming, such as a family room or common area. This allows for easier monitoring and supervision of your child’s gaming activities. Avoid placing gaming devices in bedrooms, as it can make monitoring more challenging.
- Engage in co-playing and co-viewing: Spend time playing or watching your child play video games. This allows you to experience the content firsthand and engage in discussions about the game’s themes, actions, and potential consequences. Co-playing also provides an opportunity for quality time and bonding.
- Encourage breaks and alternative activities: Encourage your child to take breaks during gaming sessions. Set designated time intervals for breaks where they engage in other activities, such as outdoor play, reading, hobbies, or spending time with family and friends. Encouraging a balance between gaming and other activities is important for their overall well-being.
- Monitor online interactions: If your child plays online multiplayer games, pay attention to their interactions with other players. Teach them about online safety, appropriate behaviour, and how to report any negative experiences. Consider using voice chat monitoring tools to ensure their online interactions are safe and respectful.
- Stay informed and engaged: Stay up-to-date with the gaming trends, news, and discussions. Engage in conversations with your child about their gaming experiences, ask them about their favourite games, and show genuine interest. This helps you understand their preferences and fosters open communication.
- Lead by example: Be a positive role model by demonstrating healthy media habits yourself. Show your child that you can enjoy other activities, engage in face-to-face interactions, and maintain a balanced lifestyle that includes various interests beyond gaming.
Remember, each child is unique, and the level of monitoring and moderation required may vary. It’s essential to have open and ongoing communication with your child, understand their interests, and adapt your approach accordingly. By maintaining active involvement and providing guidance, you can effectively monitor and moderate your child’s video game exposure.