Parent’s Guide to Video Games


Parent's Guide to Video Games
By Lisa A Mason

Video games are growing in popularity for people of all ages and backgrounds. This means that more children are playing video games as well. However, some parents have concerns about whether or not they should allow their children to play video games. And if they should, which ones are safe and appropriate?

The video game industry can be a confusing scene to a parent, especially those who don't play themselves. However, it seems that games are really the wave of the future and it will difficult to avoid them completely. Instead, you should learn about them so you can teach your child how to use them safely.

Video Games

While you always reserve the right as a parent to forbid your child from playing games, there are some things you should know about them. Video games have gotten a bad rep in the media over the years but the technology of games is becoming a big part of our culture.

Games are being developed into learning devices in schools and universities. They are even used to train the military and astronauts. They have been used as a therapy tool for sick or injured people as well. With games becoming such an important part of our future, it will be important that you help your child become familiar with them. You can do this in a safe and healthy way. Teaching your child positive video game habits today can stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Know the Games

Before you can know what is right for your children to play, you need to know what games are out there. There are different platforms in which your child can play games. These include:

· PC (computer)
· Wii
· Xbox 360
· PS3
· DS
· PSP
· iPhone
· older versions of the above consoles such as the Playstation, Nintendo and more

Game systems are becoming more and more complex with their features and abilities. This means each new system that comes out has more that it can do. Consoles can be used to play DVDs and music CDs and even to connect to the Internet and allow online play. With technology changing so quickly, it can seem hard to keep up with video games but if you can stay one step ahead of your child, you will always know about what they want to play and what is safe for them to play.

Tips for Video Games

One of the most important things you can learn about video games as a parent is the rating system and what it means. Video games have a rating system similar to that of movies. When you learn to read and understand this rating system, it will give you a general idea of which games are safe for your child to play.

The next thing you need to learn is how to get reviews of previews of the games. Many games allow you to preview or sample them before buying. This gives you a chance to check out the game for yourself before allowing your child to play.

Here are some additional basic tips for video games:

· talk to your child about the games they play

· participate with your child in game playing

· talk as a family about your video gaming rules

· put time limits on how long your child can play in sessions- then be sure to stick with them

· encourage breaks during video game time

· encourage your child to do physical activities on a regular basis, too

Video Games for Younger Children

There are many games being created for younger children. You will be surprised how great a learning tool as video games can be to even a young child. Just like anything else, when used properly and in a safe manner, video games can be great for young children. They should not, of course, be a babysitter for your child.

Here are some sample game titles for various platforms that are good for younger children:

· Zoombinis Logical Journey (PC, Mac)

· Lego Creator (PC)

· Bookworm (PC)

· The Wonder Pets Save the Animals (Nintendo DS)

· Dinosaur Adventure 3D (PC)

Video Games for Older Children

Don't mistakenly believe that older children can only be entertained by shoot-'em-up games. There are many great video games for older children that come with ratings you can approve of. There are also great games to stimulate their minds and those to help them stay in shape. More games are being designed to get them off the couch and up and moving than ever before.

Here are some samples (These titles are rated T for Teen):

· InFamous (PS3)

· The Sims 3 (PC)

· World of Warcraft and expansions (PC)

· Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)

· The Conduit (Wii)

· Final Fantasy VIII (PlayStation)

· Tales of Vesperia (Xbox 360)

· Guitar Hero 3 (Xbox 360)

· Mount and Blade (PC)

Remember that games which are rated for teen may contain content that is not suitable to younger children or young teens. You may want to preview these games before allowing your child to play them. The rating label should also list why a particular game has the ratings that is has with terms such as "blood and gore", "Violence", "adult language", "drinking", "Suggestive themes", etc.

Video Games for Whole Family

Video games can be an entire family affair. You don't have to live with the stereotype of the child sitting for hours in front of the TV playing a video game alone. Games can be a family event and this allows you the chance to be a part of something that your loves as well.

Here are some games rated E for Everyone that you might enjoy with your child:

· Wii Sports Resort (Wii)

· Wii Fit (Wii)

· Virtua Tennis (Wii)

· Little Big Planet (PS3)

· Mario Cart Wii (Wii)

· Mario Kart (Nintendo DS)

· NCAA Football (PS3)

· Pokemon Platinum (Nintendo DS)

· Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

· Brain Age (Nintendo DS)

· Lego Indiana Jones (Wii and PC)

Video games don't have to lead to violence, obesity or other negative influences on your child. They can be a positive experience, a learning tool and they can even help you exercise (think Wii Fit). However, just like anything else in your child's life, you have to be the one to begin teaching them healthy habits. Allow your healthy family gaming habits to begin today!

Lisa Mason is a freelance writer and mother of four who enjoys writing on baby and child-related topics. She is committed to help overcome the important but sometimes overwhelming role as parents and the many issues that they are faced with. Lisa is also a staff writer for CuddleMeCutie.com - a company offering baby products of all types including strollers, diaper bags [http://www.cuddlemecutie.com/Diaper-Bags-and-Purses/departments/138/], baby furniture, crib bedding and kids' books.

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