Top Tips for Safe and Fun Video Gaming for Kids This Holiday Season

Johns Hopkins Medicine

Video games may be a popular gift to give children and teens this holiday season. But not all video games are the right fit for everyone.

According to the Entertainment Software Association, 76% of kids in the U.S. play video games. Video games can be a source of entertainment or a way to unwind or relax after a busy day. During the pandemic, video games have also been a safe way to socialize while still physical distancing from others outside of the home.

While some video games have educational content, many popular video games feature violence, particularly killing of people or animals and other explicit language or content. What should parents know to ensure their kids are safe when they play?

Here are some top tips from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center experts:

  • Choose video games that are appropriate for your child’s age. Video games have Electronic Software Ratings Board (ESRB) ratings on their packages. These ratings can provide helpful information about the content of the video game and help you determine whether the game is right for your child.
  • Play the video games first. Familiarize yourself with the game’s content so that you can confirm whether you want your child to play it.
  • Be cautious about online gaming. Many video games allow players to play with friends or even strangers. But online gaming comes with risks, including potential bullying or foul language. Be sure to weigh these risks before allowing your child to participate in online gaming. Also, discuss with them the importance of being careful about the information they share online.
  • Pay attention to apps. Mobile gaming, such as apps and games on smartphones and electronic tablets, has the same potential safety concerns and should be addressed in the same way. Look carefully at the games kids are downloading and playing, and limit online play.
  • Keep video game consoles in a common area in the house. This will allow you to keep an eye on what your kids are playing.
  • Limit video game playing to one hour each day. Encourage kids to spend time doing other activities like homework or playing outside.

Consult your child’s pediatrician or a mental health professional if you have concerns about your child’s video gaming or if they develop changes in their mood or behavior.

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