If you have kids chances are you’ve heard this before. The conversation usually goes something like this:
Kid: “Mum can I play this game?”
Parent: “No you can’t” (You’re not too sure whether this game is appropriate for your child so you’re not taking any chances here.)
Kid: “But mum, everybody else is allowed to play this video game! Why not me??”
Parent: “I don’t care about anyone else! You’re not playing it!” (You’re not giving in!)
Kid: “That’s so unfair! All my friends are playing it and I’m the only one not involved! ”
Parent: “…?” (You’re doubting your decision. You worry that you’re the outlier here. The parent that doesn’t keep with the times. The one that’s out of touch…)
If you didn’t grow up with video games you might doubt your own parenting rules on video games. You may feel a little out of your depth and not 100% confident that you’re doing the right thing.
So what can you do?
1. Check the game for yourself
Tell your child that you need time to assess the game for yourself. You will decide after that.
- view some footage of the game on YouTube;
- read some reviews online;
- check the classification for the game.
- Have a play yourself! (highly recommended!)
If you decide that the game is just not suitable for them, you can explain the reasons why. Some reasons could be:
- graphic violence or other inappropriate content for children
- online connections to strangers creating a cybersafety issue
- gambling features
2. Check with other parents
Approach parents you know with kids of a similar age, or just call the parents of your child’s friends. You will find that most parents are dealing with exactly the same issues and have very similar questions.
What’s more, they will probably be very grateful that you’re reaching out and starting a conversation about it.
If you decide to let your kids play this game you can make some quick agreements with parents you trust. For example:
- How long they can play for
- What times they can play so they can play together
This way your child won’t get away with: “but mum, my friend is allowed to play until whatever time at night!!”
3. Decide and stick to it!
Regardless of anyone else’s opinion about the game, you have to decide what’s best for your child. If you’re not protecting your child’s wellbeing, who is, right?
So make your decision, know the reasons why and discuss it with your child. They may not like your decision, but if you can explain to them why they will be more likely to accept the decision.
4. Have a test period
If you are letting your child play the game you can build in a test period. During this period you can:
- Monitor their behaviour and emotions before, during and after the game
- Practice moderation and self-control
Allowing a test period will keep you in control as the parent. You can discuss the behaviours you would like to see from your child and practice these. If they pass the test, great! If not you can still remove the game.