Online games: what do parents need to know and do?

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05 Jul / Online games: what do parents need to know and do?

Parents need to know everything and do a lot

This is the current requirement of those who perform parental functions with children and adolescents known as digital natives. That may be in jeopardy of becoming addictive to or with a problematic use of internet.

The reality of generations X and Y and of today’s parents, has however changed. They are different compared to the Z and Alpha generations. The former played and socialized exclusively on the street, the next one have technology as an essential tool for socializing.

In this cross-breeding there are those who depend solely and exclusively on being online to live. I call them all the Cord Generation:

  1. In the firts place, Generation that does not turn off.
  2. Second, does not financially and emotionally autonomize.
  3. Finally, does not develop social skills, essential for entry into the labor market.

Consequently, we have parents who have to be aware that when they are followers of online games, they are giving a model. And for those parents who are not interested in the opposition and do not know the world of online games? Accordingly, they are digging an intergenerational gap.

Indeed, in the middle of adolescence and belonging to a group of peers is the difficulty of parents to situate themselves. If parents are interested in learning about their children’s academic performance, are not they equally interested in learning about and participating in their hobbies?

This is the challenge! 

Thus, the question of what parents need to know and do has a clear challenge! For instance, play with your children from a tender age. Learn to play as well. Enjoy that moment. Don’t make the game an elephant in the middle of the room, which you can’t talk about it!

The risks of not relating, of not understanding and getting close to the young are many. In the case of online games, with or without bets, the risk may even be of addiction. Important to realize that DSM 5 and ICD 11, are the two manuals – catalog of diseases. Therefore, recognized by the international scientific community. These manuals point to online gambling as an addiction, with defined criteria, and very close to other addictions with substance.

In fact, this addiction can enter the home of each family silently. As an illustration, parents validate the stay of the young person at home, in the bedroom, or on the pc. In reality, they don’t realize that they are validating a single activity in their life. To clarify, which does not include a face-to-face socialization.

Yes, the players or gamers also socialize with each other but it is only in digital form, which impoverishes their range of emotional and social skills.

How to approach the issue

There can be, in a small percentage, the parents gamers, who will introduce their children to the world of online games. There they have to take into account the vulnerability profile of the children to the risks of dependencies; and other parents who, at another extreme, still believe that their children only use the PC to study.

Parents need to know what games there are, the ones that their children play and how they play them. Try them out and from there adjust and restrict games that are not adapted to the age of your children.  There are many teenagers playing games that are not suitable for their age, they play more hours than is considered healthy, and so they leave aside many other tasks essential to their healthy development such as socialization.

Boredom seems to be missing out on young people’s experiences. The ability to make time out, to get frustrated, and to look for other ways of occupying time, which can be, among many, one of the simplest that will stop to reflect on what lived and plan what comes next, is becoming increasingly difficult and infrequent.

Parents will be able to analyze the time and type of entertainment they have as a family. This analysis should make it possible to understand the level of digitalization of the family. A young man never plays or bets online alone – there is always someone in the family to give him that chance. Whether is because of the lack of a rule / limit, or for valuing their digital capabilities, often to the detriment of others equally important to an healthy development.

Informed and experienced parents in online games will be parents with the most skill to discern what is appropriate for each of their children’s online entertainment level.

Ivone Martins Patrão

Clinical Psychologist, with a Master’s and PhD in Health Psychology (ISPA-Instituto Universitário). Family and Couples Therapist (SPTF). She has been developing clinical intervention for several years in the National Health Service, with children, young people and families, in recent years in the area of dependence on technology. (ISPA-IU, Applied Psychology Research Center Capabilities and Inclusion (APPsyCI), with publication of various scientific articles and books. “#Geração Cordão, a geração que não desliga!” – Querying online behaviors and dependencies.