Video Games from a Gamer Parents perspective

 So, my almost two-year-old has shown a lot of interest in video games recently. Probably because they are on more than TV shows in our house. Yes, we are the dreaded gamer parents. I mean, it kind of had to happen, and there are more and more all the time as all of us 90's kids start having kids.

And I have to admit, I haven't really got to any of the hard stuff yet, like really explicit or violent games that she plays or wants to play but she's showing interest in all types of games. I thought I had a plan in place for stuff like that, but I don't really know how to react when she sits still and watches her dad play Killzone longer than she watches Max & Ruby.

Anyway, we all sat down last night and played Little Big Planet and it was a lot of fun, which made me realize gaming is not evil like my parents had tried to drill into my head. It is bad when parents have no interest in what they are buying for their kid or what their kid is playing. It's bad when parents don't take part in how their child is spending their time. Or realizing what your child really knows about the world, if they are playing games you wouldn't normally allow them to play, at a friends house. Because yeah, that all really happens. And these faults are not because of the games themselves.

Actually, gaming can be a great way to bond with your kids and as a family. I mean, of course there is a line to be drawn, but say once or twice a week you all sit down and play some Mario Kart that's nothing but pure family fun! Plus games can teach your kids valuable life lessons, like hand-eye coordination, strategic thinking and problem solving.

I do have a plan, although plans sometimes get thrown off course, for when she is older and if/when she wants to play more "adult" games. It's a pretty simple strategy, it's called talking. Talking to my daughter about what games she likes, what her friends play, what is new, what she wants to play etc. I can only hope that strategy works out, otherwise I'm dead in the water.

There are a lot of games out there that seem kid-like on the cover, but are actually way more messed up than most shooting games which have a war-like scenario. If your kid is a gamer you need to stay on top of the technology and latest releases as much as he is, believe me, it is really important to know what the actual story line and game play is like in a video game if you don't want your 5 year old killing rabbits to harvest their energy and making human sacrifices.

Seriously though, when your kid says I want the new ____ game, go to YouTube and type it in and watch the trailer for the story plot and watch a video showing game play, do this for any game. Sometimes even the ratings are way off base on what most parents think is okay and what isn't.

So go on, let your kids be kids!
As a kid who grew up playing video games and as an adult who plays video games and as a parent who plays them with her daughter, the biggest piece of advice I can give to parents who are worried about video games and their child is...talk to your kids and KNOW your kids. And know what is going on in whatever your kid takes interest in, whether it's sports, science or gaming. It's not hard to talk to any kid about what they're into, I've done it to kids I don't even know and who knows, maybe you will like playing games with your kids!

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