It’s all over the media: too much screen time is bad. More and more people, children and adults, are addicted to their screens.
But what is the impact of online games on children? Let's find out.
Benefits of Playing Online Games
Computer games are still relatively new, an industry that continues to grow. According to statistics, the online gaming market grew by 9.8% in the last year alone. Despite the industry's negative press, video games have some definite benefits.
One of the good effects of online games is that younger children's learning and development can improve significantly. For example, alphabet games and times tables can embed learning and allow younger children to progress while enjoying themselves.
Other benefits include improved skills in multitasking, improved brain speed and memory, and increased social skills when playing online with others. Mobile gaming also helps children develop skills they might need – computer skills, for example.
How Can Online Gaming Be Harmful?
A child's online safety is paramount. Children don't understand the dangers of online games, and parents need to set boundaries and provide education.
Some of the most significant risks include:
- Bullying: Bullying not only happens within online games, but children might also be on the receiving end of bullying for not playing a particular game. For example, a parent might allow their child access to an 18+ game when another doesn't.
- Trolling: Trolling is a form of bullying that can significantly impact a child's self-esteem.
- Griefing: This term refers to players of an online game who deliberately ruin someone else's game. This might involve destroying someone's Minecraft build, for example.
- Scams: Just like adults, children can fall for scams. They can be even more susceptible due to their inexperience.
- Predators: One of the biggest fears of parents is predators. This can be someone pretending to be a child to connect with a child with bad intentions.
How to Protect Your Kid From the Dangers of Online Games?
Since the effects of playing online games can be damaging, parents should ensure they protect their children. For example, before allowing a child to play a game, they should check the content and age recommendations. The age rating by PEGI will give you an overall idea of how suitable a game might be for your child. However, it's worth knowing that the age rating is for the game content rather than its potential communication features. As such, a game with a low rating for its age might still allow people to speak to others they don't know.
Parents can also use an app blocker like mSpy. Once installed on the child's device, parents can choose which apps and websites to block. This means they can be prevented from accessing inappropriate content at source. You can compare mspy vs mspy lite and select the appropriate option.
One of the best things to do is talk about gaming and its dangers to children themselves. Please explain why you're not allowing them to play certain games or use specific features. Also, educate them about the details they shouldn't share with others online, no matter who they say they are.
The Social Aspect of Online Gaming
Online gaming has become a social platform where children can interact with their peers and make new friends. Multiplayer games often require teamwork, collaboration, and communication, which can foster a sense of community among players. This social interaction can help children develop essential interpersonal skills and understand the importance of teamwork. Moreover, for children who might feel isolated in their physical environments, online gaming can offer a space where they feel accepted and connected.
The Therapeutic Potential of Online Games
Recent studies have shown that certain online games can have therapeutic benefits. For instance, games that require players to follow specific patterns or sequences can help improve concentration and focus. Some games are designed to teach coping mechanisms, stress relief, and even emotional intelligence. Children with anxiety or depression might find solace in these games, using them to escape their daily struggles and as a tool to better manage their emotions.
The Role of Parents in Online Gaming
While online games offer numerous benefits, the role of parents is crucial in ensuring a balanced and safe gaming experience for their children. Parents should actively participate in their child's gaming life, understanding their games and setting time limits. Regular discussions about online safety, privacy, and the potential risks can empower children to make informed decisions. Parents can also encourage their children to take frequent breaks and balance gaming with other activities.
The Educational Value of Online Games
Beyond the entertainment factor, many online games are designed with an educational purpose. These games can teach children about history, science, math, and even literature. Puzzle games enhance problem-solving skills, strategy games improve critical thinking, and simulation games can offer insights into real-world scenarios. When chosen wisely, online games can be a valuable addition to a child's educational toolkit, making learning interactive and fun.
The Future of Online Gaming for Children
The world of online gaming is ever-evolving, with technological advancements and game design promising even more immersive experiences. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) games are rising, offering children new ways to learn and interact. As the line between education and entertainment blurs, the future holds exciting possibilities for integrating gaming into learning and development.
Online gaming has become integral to many children's lives, offering entertainment and numerous benefits. Games can positively affect a child's development, from fostering social connections to serving therapeutic and educational purposes. However, as with any online activity, parents must be involved, ensuring a safe and balanced gaming experience. The future of online gaming holds immense potential, with technological advancements paving the way for even more enriching experiences.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the educational benefits of online games?
Online games can teach subjects like history, science, and math. They can also enhance problem-solving skills critical thinking, and offer insights into real-world scenarios.
How can parents ensure their child's safety while gaming online?
Parents should be familiar with their children's games, set time limits, discuss online safety, and use parental control tools when necessary.
Are there games specifically designed for therapeutic purposes?
Some games are designed to help manage emotions, relieve stress, and teach coping mechanisms.
How do multiplayer games enhance social skills?
Multiplayer games require teamwork, communication, and collaboration, helping children develop interpersonal skills.
What are the potential dangers of online gaming?
Risks include exposure to inappropriate content, cyberbullying, scams, and online predators.
How can children balance gaming with other activities?
Setting time limits and encouraging regular breaks can help children balance gaming with other essential tasks.
Are VR and AR games suitable for children?
While they offer immersive experiences, parents should ensure the content is age-appropriate and monitor usage.
How do online games impact a child's brain development?
Games can improve brain speed, memory, focus, and multitasking skills.
Can online games help children with learning disabilities?
Certain games are designed to cater to children with learning disabilities, helping them grasp concepts better.
How can parents educate children about the risks of online gaming?
Open discussions, sharing real-life incidents, and setting guidelines can help educate children about potential risks.