More Than a Game: 7 Guidelines for Parents to Keep Gaming Healthy

More Than a Game: 7 Guidelines for Parents to Keep Gaming Healthy

Many students love the adventure online gaming brings. But many parents can feel overwhelmed trying to navigate this intersection of family, faith, and technology. At GRACE Christian School, we believe in equipping students for life, which involves partnering with parents. 

Truth is, not all gaming is bad. Modest doses may lead to better motor skills, problem-solving, and some relaxation. But a routine of “just ten more minutes” may cause harm.

Watch for Warnings

Ease of access to screens of all sizes can turn gaming from a hobby into a problem. This can reveal itself in slipping grades, weakening friendships and family bonds, and worsening emotional instability. Potential warning signs include the following:

– Overlooking after-school chores

– Rapid, sustained decline in time spent on homework

– Anxiety from sudden shifts in schedule

– Extreme irritation when asked to stop gaming

– Aggression toward siblings or pets that disrupt gaming

– Indifference toward time with family and friends

Watch for these warning signs over time, measuring them against the fruit of the Spirit, starting with love, joy, peace, patience, and gentleness (see Galatians 5:22-23). Remind your children that God desires integrity, correct priorities, and self-control. 

Keep Gaming Fun and Healthy

Parents can help children game responsibly. So maybe instead of selling the Xbox, try implementing these guidelines to keep gaming fun and healthy.

1. Create gaming times.

Limiting gaming to one or two hours a day can unlock benefits for gamers without unleashing the risks. Have any gaming turned off at least 30 minutes before bedtime, and avoid using extra gaming time as an incentive. 

2. Set the example.

Our kids learn from our habits. If you’re constantly thumbing your phone or tablet, you may be fueling your child’s gaming habits.

3. Make family time screen-free.

Family dinners, weekend adventures, and even chores can bring families together when conversation displaces screens.

4. Leverage parental controls cautiously.

You’re a better parent than Nintendo. Use the parental controls tech companies provide, but beware of loopholes. Your child is tech-savvier than you. 

5. Game together.

Visiting your child’s gaming world can build trust in the real world. Grab a controller and join him or her in some racing or world conquering. After your shared gaming experiences, chat through the following questions:
– “What do you like about this game?”
– “Does anything you don’t like happen during this game?”
– “What would you do if …?” 

6. Read game reviews.

Read game reviews with your child. This provides an excellent opportunity for your child to learn the why behind a “no” or “yes.” Use sources like Plugged In and Common Sense Media with your kids to understand a game’s story and characters, and whether a game is in line with your family’s Christian values.

7. Talk about online bullying.

Remind your children that their Christian values aren’t shared by everyone playing online. Any chats during gaming that make your child uncomfortable should result in a conversation with a parent. Check in with your child regularly about what they see and hear from online players.

Have a Conversation

When kids bristle at healthy limits, remember: Leading them well is more important than being liked. Keep calm. Hear them out. Speak the truth in love. And reach out to other parents and to school personnel for help.

See How GRACE Supports Healthy Tech Habits

Beginning in 4th grade, GRACE students have their own laptop to use in the classroom. In grades 5-12, our students use these laptops at school and home.

We prepare our students for online learning. Beginning in Transitional Kindergarten (TK), our students are taught healthy tech habits. Our IT department has written a complete TK-12th grade Scope and Sequence for digital and library skills. Our broad curriculum covers everything from learning to type to curating a positive digital footprint. Areas of emphasis in this curriculum include Media Center use, computer literacy, internet safety, research and information fluency, and social responsibility and ethical use.If you’d like to know more about how we’re educating students to thrive in a digital world, schedule a tour today at GRACE Christian School. We look forward to hearing from you!