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Moms Talk: Do You Monitor What Video Games Your Child Plays?

We want to hear what you have to say.

If you have a child, you probably have at least one game console at home, too. But how often do you let your children play, and how closely do you monitor what they are playing? And how young is too young for video games?

Some studies, such as this one reported in a National Geographic article, suggest that playing video games can increase hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. "Action video gamers tend to be more attuned to their surroundings while performing tasks like driving down a residential street, where they may be more likely to pick out a child running after a ball than a non-video gamer," the article said.

An American Psychological Association study links violent video games with violent and anti-social behavior. "Violent video games are significantly associated with: increased aggressive behavior, thoughts, and affect; increased physiological arousal; and decreased prosocial (helping) behavior," read the article.

In another study reported in the Denver Post, a researcher linked video game withdrawal to violent behavior, citing the Columbine school shooting as an extreme example.

Tracey Moro May 04, 2011 at 05:57 PM
Good question. I'm one of those moms who never plays video games - period. My kids do but their time doing it is limited. I can't really control what games they play except when they are at home - when they go to their friends -it's out of my control. You must just keep an eye on behavior and make sure they spend their time doing other things like playing outside, reading and board games too. I have no problem letting young ones, even toddlers play video games - it's the way of the world today and by the time they are teens - the technology will have advanced so they should get on the band wagon. There are plenty of really cool games out there that don't involve violence.
Celia May 04, 2011 at 06:45 PM
My mom bought our family a Wii this past Christmas after two years of our 5 year old son playing hers every time we visited her house. We definitely monitor the games that he plays. Go, Diego Go!, Mario Kart and Spongebob are great, kid friendly games as well as any sports games. We have him so accustomed to playing these "safe" games that even at a friends house he will tell the parents that "my Mom doesn't let me play guns". (I should note that I am a paramedic and therefore gun safety is a HUGE topic in our house). As to the hand-eye coordination, I have to agree without a doubt. In moderation, the games can be a great way to keep kids using their problem solving skills. I think as long as parents stay involved (even playing with their kids sometimes) game systems can have many benefits.
Jen Anesi May 05, 2011 at 02:18 AM
You're right, Tracey. Video games are a huge part of our kids' generation, and there's pretty much no avoiding them. It's all about making sure the games they play are appropriate and making sure they're balancing other activities with video games. It's hard, though, especially since my son would prefer to play Wii 8 hours a day every day (he must get it from his dad, because I'm definitely not a gamer!).
Jen Anesi May 05, 2011 at 02:25 AM
Awww, you've taught him well, Celia :) And I agree that some games definitely help kids develop problem-solving skills. Angry Birds, for instance, is a physics lesson in disguise, IMHO. What are your son's favorite problem-solving games?
Jessica Mardlin May 05, 2011 at 08:16 PM
I tend not to monitor the video games my daughter plays. The only ones she has access to, at home anyways, are those that I've purchased. I will not purchase video games that I deem inappropriate so I don't see the need to monitor. I do however limit her time on them. :) As far as computer games are considered, there is a wonderful website/browser called KidZui. Your kids only have access to those sites that YOU approve of. Love that they have a built in monitoring system too, each week (or as often as you want) they e-mail me a report of exactly what my daughter has been up to!

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