Since we started sharing our message of onlife literacy, parents have asked us what are some strategies that they can implement to help manage or minimize the risks of problematic gaming behaviour. Here are our “Golden Rules” that we recommend to all families when it comes to online gaming:
#1) No gaming (or any other tech) in the bedroom:
Given that we know that those who are looking to target younger youth for online predation and exploitation seek privacy to ply their trade, we need to ensure that gaming does not take place in the privacy of a youth’s bedroom. The second reason; sleep challenges. Having access to gaming in a bedroom can often tempt a youth to play online when they should instead be sleeping. A bedroom if for sleeping and not for gaming.
#2) Don’t use gaming as a digital pacifier/babysitter:
Although allowing your child to game for hours may provide you with “me time”, it is not a strategy that you should adopt as an ongoing practice. This should be the exception and not the rule.
#3) Set the rules and times for gameplay
Be your child’s best parent and not their best friend there is a difference. It is important that there are clear boundaries and implemented structure into the “when” and “how much” time will be given for gaming. Yes, there are times where you can bend this rule, but this should be the exception and not the practice.
#4) Enforce transition period between gameplay and bedtime:
A youth’s brain needs to decompress from the excitement of gameplay prior to bedtime to make it easier to fall asleep. We recommend that there should be no gaming 30-60 minutes before bedtime.
#5) Give a 20-minute warning before shut down if needed:
Remember, youth have a challenge when it comes to stopping rewarding behaviour and moving onto something less rewarding. If parents stop a youth unexpectedly in the middle of a game, it is like taking away their desert before they can finish it and such a spontaneous action only creates conflict. As cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Marc Palaus stated, “there is no intrinsic reason a child should stop playing on their own, unless there is a more rewarding experience available at the moment.”
#6) Get your child to teach you about the game and participate with your child
We know most parents don’t want to learn how to play Fortnite or Minecraft, but doing so will pay big parental dividends. The research shows that parents who engage and participate in a child’s onlife world, those youth are far less likely to get involved in problematic onlife behaviour. You might be amazed at what you learn, and you may actually find that you enjoy the experience of gaming together.
#7: Ensure the game is age-appropriate
Do your research, and know the games your child is playing. Some popular games contain inappropriate language or sexualized behaviour that may not be congruent with your family values and ethics
The White Hatter Team