Have you ever played Mario Kart? How about Fortnite, Call of Duty, Minecraft, or Rocket League? If you have kids ages 8-17, chances are you’ve watched them play one or more of these games.
A recent study revealed that family members who played video games together, had better family satisfaction and family closeness. Results also showed that those with poor family communication benefit more from co-playing than those with effective family communication.
Raising kids with strong communication skills and technology skills is the mission at Smart Digital Kids, and this study brought up memories of playing video games with my own kids.
My daughters started playing games on the computer in the days of The Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. I often sat by their sides and watched them play the games. Between the ages of 3-11, they played for limited times throughout the week, and not as much on the weekends.
My one rule about video games was that it must be educational. My girls had a lot of fun together sharing the computer and cheering each other on.
We didn’t get a Nintendo Wii console until my kids were 14, 12, and 8. My girls learned fast. My son, just 8, took a while to catch up.
The big challenge was that my son was competing with his older sisters and we endured many tantrums. Another hardship for my son was that he didn’t have a partner to co-play.
So I decided to learn how to play Mario Kart.
At first I was awful, and my husband wasn’t great at it either. But I got better at it.
It took us a long time to learn to play well, but we spent all that time learning with our kids. We showed them what good sportsmanship looks like.
We saw fun through their eyes and we laughed and played with them often.
One of the most special memories of my kids playing Mario Kart is with their grandpa. In his 70s, my dad would play Mario Kart for an hour or so every morning, and would practice like this for months. When he came to visit us, he and the kids would play for hours. My dad won many, many games and the cheering and laughing was contagious.
I also became a fairly good player over time and it did bring me closer to my kids. To date, I still hold the high score for the Snowball Fight Expert (80) on Wii fit.
Something I noticed about my son while he played is that he wanted to be noticed. He wanted us to watch him play the games. He wanted to show us a part of the game that he did well in. He has done this for years.
If you are parenting a kid who loves playing video games, take note. Put aside 10-20 minutes a couple times a week to watch him or her play. It’s not so much about the video game as it is about being noticed and cheered for, especially for an extroverted kid who easily connects with others.
During our hardships with the novel coronavirus most kids at home have been playing more video games than usual.
If you find your son or daughter playing loudly, instead of telling them to be quiet, try sitting with them for a bit. Watch them, or even co-play with them. Doing this, on more than one occasion, you will see a side of your kid that will surprise you.
Do you play video games with your kids? Can you relate?