Digital Parenting Tips: Encouraging Positive Gaming Habits

This article addresses the challenges and benefits of children's gaming, emphasizing the importance of balanced, supervised play in safe gaming communities for healthy development and social connections.
Written by
Mikko Perälä

I want to address two opinion pieces that have recently captured attention: classroom teacher Kaisa Eskola's (Article on Helsingin Sanomat 7.4.2024) concern about students spending their afternoons with video games, and a mother's (Article on Helsingin Sanomat 8.4.2024) open admission of her children's excessive gaming. These articles reflect the daily realities of many schools and families, offering a heartbreakingly honest depiction of the challenges of the present day.

Eskola's piece raises concerns about our children's well-being in the face of digital entertainment, while the mother's article opens a window into the challenges of daily life and the feeling of helplessness related to screen time. Both writers are doing their best to deal with the challenges of the digital world, which is no easy task.

However, it's important to bring to the discussion that gaming is not only a negative thing. It offers children and adolescents meaningful experiences, learning opportunities, and a crucial sense of social belonging. This does not mean that concerns about excessive screen time or inappropriate content are unfounded, but the perspective needs to be broadened.

Echoing the thoughts of child psychiatrist Jari Sinkkonen, I wish parents would treat gaming as a hobby. Just as in other supervised activities, gaming as a hobby can address and process many of life's challenges. Through the community formed around organized activities, children and adolescents experience belonging, gain positive social experiences, and form genuine friendships.

Life in the era of information networks requires a new understanding and approach to gaming and screen time. I would emphasize quality in both. Screen time can also be positive and activating! In gaming, it's more important to know precisely with whom your child is playing, rather than what they are playing. High quality positive gaming that occurs in a safe environment and includes the guidance of a trained adult can be part of healthy growth and development.

Ultimately, it's about finding a balance – recognizing the opportunities and benefits of gaming while identifying and managing its associated risks. This requires understanding, discussion, and cooperation from all parties: parents, teachers, game educators, and the children themselves.

Mikko Perälä

Game-Based Learning Expert and Principal Gamer

School of Gaming

PS. If you are interested in gaming as a hobby, please check out our upcoming Minecraft summer camps. They are a great way to start a new gaming hobby!

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