Playing online games responsibly, some tips on limits

 

limiting screen time

Video games and online games are a part of life. For parents, it’s an outlet to place the kids when the business of regular life takes over –– like when you need time to work. Of course you can find games that inspire learning and ecological concepts to protect our planet, but there is always a need to understand what your family is playing to make sure it’s responsible gaming –– or not.  

For older kids, like teens and young adults it’s a place to share interests, and connect to friends in multi-player games Covid times have been exceptional –– but make sure that what your child and all members of your family is doing for their health and well being. 

Here are some tips to encourage responsible gaming:

  1. For younger children under the age of 13, make limits on the amount of time they can play and the content of the game. Games that encourage building and searching may be a better outlet than shooting and fast-action games. 
  2. If the game involves money and risk taking or for upgrading weapons, again, set a limit. Just like at the local carnival sometimes it’s part of the challenge to wager real money on winning a race between friends or on cars, or to see if you can hit the goal and win the bear but always set aside money that you are prepared to lose –– and money that is allowed to be spent on game extras and upgrades. It can be $5 or 10 a day or a week or less or more depending on your income. If you see someone from your family is spending their money, allowance or income on gaming, have a family meeting and see if it’s the right direction and if limits need to be made. When I was a young adult and went travelling with my friend’s parents they game us $20 each for playing slots at a resort casino. When I was up $15 I quit and appreciated the money we won. 
  3. Have specific times a day or in the week when online gaming is allowed. Have you ever had friends over and their kids are locked into a 7-day multi-player game marathon of Minecraft? It’s not only damaging for the person addicted to the game. It will damage relationships in your family. Set limits.  
  4. Try different games, even board games. Don’t get locked into one game that might start to learn your behaviours and weaknesses. Online games today are built using Ai and all your behavior on other platforms and social media. Furthermore some games may be collecting more information about you than you want or need. Try playing in anonymous mode and avoid giving access to online payment systems or credit cards. 
  5. Games are meant to be fun, not hurtful or destructive. If money is being played in the game remind the players that it just a game and that if money is won consider donating to a local ecological group pr charity –– so that when you play for fun and win for fun the winnings won’t go back to you, but to a good cause. 
  6. Consider also playing online games with companies who have made a commitment to the environment by investing in renewable energy and minorities. 

 

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