Parents, kids and gaming are often a volatile mixture. The parental fears of too much gaming are well-documented. Get away from in front of that screen. Go outside and get some fresh air. Will all that fantasy role-playing make it difficult for them to remain grounded in reality? How will playing violent games impact them? What sort of people are they interacting with while they are playing online?
Who knew it would take a pandemic to help answer some of these real and imagined fears?
COVID-19 is changing much of what we do and the way we do it and the world of gaming is no different in this manner. The world of eSports, already a rapidly-growing entity, has witnessed an explosion of action on all forms of gaming at online betting sites, especially during the time when the mainstream sports world was in lockdown.
Another subtle change, also brought on by lockdowns and families being basically quarantined together in a bubble environment, is that parents and children are finding new and unique methods of entertaining themselves and interacting with each other. And in some homes, they are bonding over gaming.
Teach Your Parents Well
According to a survey conducted by parents-together.org, screen time among children during the first two months of the COVID-19 pandemic jumped by as much as 500 percent.
As if parents needed another reason to go off the deep end when it comes to their kids and video games. However, as time in the bubble continued, instead of berating their children, more and more parents ended up becoming their children.
Some parents chose to sit with their kids and allow them to teach the old folks a new trick – how to play their favorite games. Consider it a modern version of the old axiom if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
“Teaching my mom and dad to play [Rocket League] last winter was a turning point for us,” 15-year old high school student Collin Blewett of Sacramento, California told USA Today. “It was kind of a best-case, fairytale time that I never expected.”
In reality, parents and children watching a screen together is hardly a new form of family entertainment. The television filled that role in the living rooms of homes for decades, as mom, dad and the kids would gather to watch their favorite shows.
Today’s world is digital. There’s no getting around that. Kids are going to spend time in front of screens, whether their parents like it or not. It’s where their friends are. And during the pandemic, it’s also been where their school chums are and in essence, where their community resides.
Families used to play board games together, so sharing the video gaming experience is merely the next step in that process. On top of that, the gaming world offers a unique family-bonding experience, a rare opportunity where the children are likely to be significantly better at it than their parents. That factor enables another element to enter the room, the chance for kids to mentor their folks.
“It’s nice for the child to be able to teach his or her parents about gaming,” Sinem Siyahhan, assistant research professor at the Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, told WJBR. “Our research is finding that sharing this experience cultivates family bonding, learning and well-being.”
Learning The Benefits Of Gaming
By sharing this space with their children, parents are also able to discover that there are numerous positive impacts from the gaming experience that are proving beneficial in the development of their kids.
Those positive benefits include learning how to problem solve, to work with others in a team environment and to think analytically. Gaming offers players avenues to be creative. It’s an interactive learning experience that also provides participants with an outlet that helps to spawn freedom of self-expression and to improve communication skills.
Playing alongside their kids, parents are also realizing that all those fears they harbored about how gaming was impacting their children were entirely unfounded.
“It’s not an isolating experience like we used to think,” Joel Willis, editor in chief of The Dad, told USA Today. “Kids aren’t playing alone for hours on end.
“We’re in the Golden Age of social gaming. Playing Fortnite with my son, it’s constant conversation. ‘I got your back, do this, do that.’ We help each other out.
“In between all those commands and collaboration, we talk about his life and school. Same with my daughter. I love that I can share this time with them.”