Being at home more has inevitably led to more time in front of screens for both adults and children. Some of this is an intentional use of technology to stay in touch, but there is also an unintentional increase of inside leisure time for children, which can mean more video games.
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.