Teaching prosocial behaviours to children while they engage with violent video games can help shape their understanding of violence and its consequences. Here are some strategies that parents can consider:
- Open communication: Engage in ongoing conversations with your children about the content and themes of the games they play. Discuss the difference between fantasy and reality, the consequences of violent actions, and the importance of empathy and kindness.
- Media literacy: Teach critical media literacy skills by helping children analyse and evaluate the messages portrayed in video games. Encourage them to question and think critically about the violence they encounter, its purpose within the game, and its potential impact.
- Set clear boundaries: Establish rules and guidelines around video game usage, including the types of games that are appropriate for your child’s age and maturity level. Communicate expectations regarding behaviour and reinforce the understanding that virtual violence should not be replicated in real life.
- Model prosocial behaviour: Be a positive role model by demonstrating empathy, kindness, and non-violent conflict resolution in your own interactions and behaviours. Children learn a lot by observing their parents’ actions, so exhibiting prosocial behaviours can greatly influence their own attitudes and actions.
- Encourage alternative activities: Provide a variety of non-violent activities and hobbies that promote cooperation, empathy, and positive social interactions. Engage in activities such as team sports, art, music, or community service that foster prosocial behaviours.
- Supervise and monitor gameplay: Stay involved and aware of the games your child plays. Monitor their gameplay, and if necessary, set limits on the duration and frequency of video game sessions. This allows you to provide guidance and intervene if any concerning behaviour or attitudes arise.
- Teach conflict resolution: Help your child develop skills in resolving conflicts peacefully and assertively. Teach them strategies such as active listening, compromise, and finding win-win solutions. Encourage them to seek non-violent alternatives when faced with challenges or disagreements.
- Foster empathy and perspective-taking: Encourage your child to understand and consider the perspectives of others. Discuss the emotions and motivations of characters in video games and explore how their actions impact others within the game’s narrative.
Remember that teaching prosocial behaviours is an ongoing process, and each child is unique. By combining these strategies with consistent guidance, support, and positive reinforcement, parents can play an essential role in shaping their children’s understanding of violence and promoting prosocial behaviours both within and outside of the gaming context.