Video games are present in almost every home in America. In fact, according to the Entertainment Software Association, in 2009, 68 percent of American households played video or computer games. While playing video games in moderation isn?t likely to affect the family in a negative way, if playing video games interferes with family life, the effects of video games on the family must be analyzed.
Positive Effects of Video Games
Playing video games together can have a positive effect on the family. Getting everyone together to play can promote family bonding and unity. Some video games, like classic arcade and sports games, are perfect for families to play together. Between turns, family members can talk and enjoy spending time together. Families who tend to be physically inactive may also benefit from playing video games by choosing games like Wii Fit or boxing, which can promote physical activity. Educational video games can also have positive effects on the family. Video games designed for young children can help them with math concepts and reading.
Negative Effects of Video Games
If someone if your family is glued to his hand-held or game console, video games could be affecting your family negatively. Playing video games too often can promote isolation and seclusion and can cut down on your family time and communication. If your family members have unrestricted access to their video games, they may be at risk for becoming addicted to them. Playing violent video games may also lead to increased violence and aggression in family members.
Prevent Negative Impacts
Parents can prevent video games from negatively affecting their families by following a few simple rules. Video game consoles should be located in public areas of the house, like in the living room or family room. When video games are played in public areas, playing time and game choices can be more easily monitored. Setting limits about when individual family members can play and how long they can play for can also help to reduce the negative impact video games may have on their family. Having set boundaries around play time can reduce fights over who gets to play and can prevent too much playing from occurring.
Help for Gaming Trouble
If you feel like your family is having negative effects from video game use, you can stop and reverse their impact. First, you can cut out video game playing completely for two weeks. Doing so can help everyone get a much needed break from the screen. Next, you can reintroduce video games to your family in a structured way. You can have children earn play time or set aside limited time for play each day or on weekends. Lastly, you can set aside a weekly family night that is free from video games. You can play board games or engage in another nongaming activity.
Video Game Considerations
When choosing video games, it is important that you choose games that are appropriate for your family. In addition to being age appropriate for family members, the message of the video game should not conflict with your family?s values or rules. For example, if your family doesn?t allow guns in the house, playing a video game that involves shooting isn?t a good idea. If the video games allowed in your home contradict your family?s values, it will send a confusing message to your children.