The conversation about the benefits and dangers of video games is accelerating as we lean on technology for things that have previously been face-to-face. The happy early headlines about positive gaming are being joined by articles raising concerns about the impact of screen time on children and of course, adults.
I have worked with families for over fifteen years offering advice on how to enjoy video games as a healthy part of life. This advice hinges on something that is as true now as ever: we need to understand and engage with the technologies our children love, so that we are attuned to the care and guidance they need.
Understanding video games isn’t something I can do justice to in a few paragraphs. But it’s important to see video games as a new media rather than just entertainment for kids. As well as being entertaining, it’s a capable and powerful way to tell stories about the world, engage in all manner of subjects and find connection to other people.
Video games create a virtual space that invites us to do things we wouldn’t or couldn’t normally do in real life. We can be a special forces soldier or take on ambitious building projects, help vulnerable people, soar through the clouds as a superhero or even walk in the shoes of a refugee. In this way, video games connect us to stories and issues with our emotions as much as our intellect.