Most of today’s Dads love video games. In fact, they’re how most of today’s Dads spent all of the ‘90s. They are to us, what home video was to our parents. Gen X and millennial Dads were on the cusp of a revolution in consumer technology where the vaunted arcade machines like Pong, Pac Man, Space Invaders and the like were brought into the home on primitive (by today’s standards) consoles like the Atari 2600.
They were the first generation to realise that games could be about more than just blasting aliens with lasers. They could be taxing to the mind (see The Talos Principle), they could create characters that generations fall in love with and they could even become high art (see Ico). They were the first to discover that getting stuck into your favorite game with your favorite drink was a great way to relax on a Friday night, and if you’re a whiskey man looking for something mild yet complex to sip while you game, check out this Kikori review, but that gaming while drunk was almost always disastrous.
Since we owe so much to the gaming experiences of our childhood and youth, it stands to reason that we want to share the experience of gaming with our kids. The good news is that playing video games with your kids can certainly have its benefits but it does come with certain caveats.
What was that about benefits?
Yes, that’s right. Playing games can have some developmental benefits for kids. As well as being something great to bond over with Dad (like building that Lego Millennium Falcon that you’ll get around to any day now), they can also improve concentration, hand to eye coordination as well as logic and creative problem-solving skills. Of course, before you start extolling the virtues of games to your partner it’s important to remember the caveats for parents.
Keep it age appropriate
Of course, you have to consider what’s appropriate for them in terms of maturity but it’s also important to consider what they’ll find accessible, too. As tempting as it may be to pull out your Super Nintendo and get ready to give them a pasting at Super Street Fighter II, they’ll likely take one look at it, decide “meh, it’s old” and lose interest. Anything with the name Mario in it will likely offer a kid-friendly aesthetic as well as accessible yet challenging mechanics. Likewise, the Lego games are a great example of material that is perfect for both kids and adults with a gameplay that’s easy to pick up yet hard to master and storylines which are kid friendly but sprinkled with wry with for adults. Plus, you’ll be able to piggyback on their recognition of pop culture staples like Batman, Star Wars and Harry Potter.
Know how much is too much
As fun as you might have bonded over games with your kids, you don’t want to raise dependent screen junkies either. It’s important to make sure that time spent playing games is reasonable and proportionate. There are no set guidelines for how long kids should spend playing video games but one hour a day is usually considered a reasonable limit.
Enjoy gaming as part of a balanced diet of activities
It’s important that video games are best enjoyed as one piece of a tapestry of indoor and outdoor activities to ensure that your kids are getting plenty of physical exercise as well as building their social skills and an appreciation of nature and the world outside their home.