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  • Thoughts about Video Games and Kids #NavigateTheHolidays

    #NavigateTheHolidaysLast week, the folks at MomsLA and GameStop invited me to a #NavigateTheHolidays event to learn about the hottest games and consoles this season, how GameStop can help with holiday shopping, and – what I ended up finding to be the most interesting – some statistics on video games, screen time, and kids.

    My husband and I both get a lot of screen time ourselves, mostly through computers, some from television, and especially now with our smartphones. So from the moment I first became a parent nine years ago, I’ve been concerned about how much screen time my kids get. I read the articles and recommendations in various parenting books and magazines about minimizing screen time, and I’d heard some nightmarish stories from friends with kids older than mine about screen time obsessions.

    However, over the years, my kids have had ready access to television, video games, iPods, DVDs, and computers. (I know it might be shocking, but we don’t have a single tablet in our household . . . yet.) And while I may not be unbiased, I do think my children are well-adjusted, healthy and happy. They both keep very active with sports, do well in school, and by all accounts are reportedly extremely well-behaved when they’re not with me or my husband. Thanks to school, homework, and their busy sports schedules, screen time is inherently limited, so they rarely have a chance to exceed the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of two hours per day.

    At the event last week, a representative from Techlicious shared some interesting study results from the UK Millenium Cohort Study, which tracked 11,000 kids over 10 years:

    • “When video games were introduced to kids as young as 5, there was no effect on the child’s attention, behavior, or emotional health”
    • However, “[k]ids who watched 3+ hours of TV, specifically between ages 5-7, had increased behavioral problems”
    • Video games can “help improve hand-eye coordination, memory formation, and can even help dsylexic children to read better”

    I personally found these results reassuring, since they tend to corroborate my observations of my own children. It reinforces my common-sense belief that, as with all of parenting, what matters isn’t the fact of screen time by itself. What matters is the content you let your children watch on TV, the types of games you allow them to play, whether you discuss the proper use of technology at appropriate times, and so on. The key to good parenting when it comes to screen time isn’t so much limiting the amount of screen time, as it is monitoring the quality and content of screen time.

    If you’re uncertain about video game content, the Entertainment Standard Rating Board issues ratings for video games that make good general guidelines regarding content and age-appropriateness. The GameStop representative at the event last week assured us that they work hard to prevent sales of mature-rated games to minors.

    Another nice thing that came up was how many families play video games together. It’s basically the modern version of Family Game Night, just with video games instead of board games. And there are so many games that you can play together, although it sounds like the most popular one is Just Dance.

    Not surprisingly, however, my kids’ favorite games right now are Minecraft {every kid their age seems to play it!}, and sports games like Madden and FIFA. And I’m ok with that!

    Although the event I attended was sponsored by GameStop, I was not required to write about it. This post does contain affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for using through them! All opinions are my own. You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.