Kids Who Play Online Games: 10 Tips and Insights

Kids Who Play Online GamesAccording to Kate Connally of 78% of teen girls 82% of teen boys game online.  If you think your kid does not casually game you are probably wrong, every parent with kids ages 6 and up need to think about the new gaming era.  I actually think gaming can be really good.  I know there have been recent studies showing that this generation is able to think faster and gaming has helped with this.  I decided to write this article after hearing this story:

“I am a dad and I travel a lot for business.  I used to call home and talk to my son on the phone and get grunts or short answers.  It was always expensive and the calls just made me feel further away because I would ask how he was and not really get any answers it always sounded like he was texting at the same time or something.  When I was between trips one time I saw him playing Command and Conquer and asked to play with him.  We figured out that I could play anywhere with an Internet connection and you can chat with head phones through the game or text chat in the bottom of the game about strategy.  So, when I travel now we log on to a game together and play a mission and talk and chat during the game.  Not only is it a great break for me, but he looks forward to talking to me and we actually chat during the game.”

This is a true example of the positive effect of the new form of gaming.  Check out some other ideas:

1) This is not the video game talk

Online gaming is different than the talk about video games 5-15 years ago.  5 years ago gaming was mainly in your TV with your Play Station, Sega or Nintendo.   Gaming is now mobile, in the cloud and on the desktop and the type of gamers has changed.

2) Casual Gaming

The majority of kids are casual gamers, meaning that they game 1-2 times at least per week and often game when:

-pass time

-they are bored

-there is nothing on TV

-they want to talk with friends

They do not necessarily trade tips or take their gaming very seriously.  Yet, just because someone is a casual gamer, does not mean they do not necessarily spend a lot of time gaming.  Casual gamers can spend 12 hours a day gaming, it just means that they do not compete regularly in the same forums or on levels of a game.

3) Socializing Through Games

Games are social.  Of course, there are many games that kids play alone with an electronic competitor.  But games are social in a number of ways:

-Chat rooms with the games

-Playing a game while your friends watch (often happens on desktops at schools)

-Background to a party.  When I have friends over, the Wii is always on.  We still talk and eat and communicate but someone is always playing in the background.

-Social networks built behind the games.  I know many game websites have whole social networks and profiles built behind their games where users can list their hobbies and favorite games and tips.

4) Movies and Games as One

“We are the 16 candles of online games,” says Connally of  Gaming sites are trying very hard (and succeeding) to tie together traditional entertainment and games so that they are seamless.  Almost every movie out has a component online game and this is a way that young people experience more of the movie…by playing a version of it.

5) Games with Statements

There are many games that make some kind of statement, or dare I say it, might even teach a lesson.  For example “Barry Bonds Game” is a game where you can give steroids to your baseball playing avatars where they will play well, but if you choose to give them steroids then after the game you run the risk of having them get really bad press and have to switch teams making your next season bad.  There is also Trillion Dollar Bailout has little AIG employees running around New York City cartoon buildings and Escape the Oval Office is another popular one featuring a cartoon Bush.  There are many attack and kill mode games but also some that are pro-social.

6) Homework Games

Without fail, whenever one of my clients opens their laptop after school (which was taken to school that day) the two programs that pop-up are a Word document for their class notes and a game of some sort.  These cane be online games or dashboard games which are very popular on Mac laptops where there are mini-games like tic tac toe and Bedazzle literally one click away when the teacher decides to breathe in between points. (seriously)

7) Double Time Games

Our generation’s middle name should be multi-task.  That doesn’t really make sense, but oh well, you know what I mean.  Teens often are gaming while doing something else.  Especially, casual gamers, almost never just game.  They game while watching TV, while in class, while at a party, while on the bus, while hanging out with friends.

8) Mobile Games

Mobile games are on cell phones as opposed to dashboard games (on a computer) or games in the cloud (games online).  These are so popular.  If a teen is bored and they have their cell phone on them (which of course they do), they will have some sort of game on their phone and play it to fill any gap times.  In my mind, I think that gaming is the new social filler.

9) Inappropriateness

I will end with some of the negatives of games because I have tips for parents coming up next.  One worry is that in the chat rooms young people can meet anyone online and feel a false sense of security with people they are playing with.  Also, have you ever taken a gander at some of the chat room text below a game of World of Warcraft? Foul, foul, foul.  It is like the worst basketball court talk, mixed in with teenage boy hormones and competition.  I get nervous when tween boys who truly just want to play are exposed to the foul language beneath the game.  Also, games like “Shoot the Muslim” and “Redneck Round-up” are grossly offensive and inappropriate.  Many teens realize these are offensive, but think they ‘are just funny.’ I worry about the racist, offensive and degrading games in such a casual light environment without parents knowing.

Tips for Parents of Gamers

-Make time limits

-Make no electronic zones in your house (dining room? Family room? their room?)

-Make no electronic times during your week where they have to find something else to do

-Spend some time gaming yourself, I do think gaming can be really positive and I think the best way for parents to make relevant rules is to understand the appeal and the types of games they are playing

-Ask them to show you what they are playing

-Make it a bonding thing.  Play with them!

Top Gaming Sites for Kids and Teens:

I would like to end by really emphasizing the idea of checking out these games and websites for yourself.  I provide these for my readers because I want to help you understand the environments that your kids are in.  Games can be used as a positive, bonding experience, you just have to give them a chance!

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