A very cogent argument can be made that 21st century adults are overly involved in the lives of their children, resulting in kids the loss of opportunities for independent thinking and autonomy. Many children are over scheduled by their parents, given too much homework by their teachers, and restricted in exploring their world by cultural expectations and concerns about safety and free play. Helicopter parents are common, and children are fettered by unrealistic concerns about safety while outdoors or in the community. As a result, many children spend far too much time indoors, in front of screens, and isolated from their friends except via their electronics. However, at the same time, I argue that parents should play video games and watch TV with their kids.
Interestingly, as over-involved as many parents are in their children’s lives outside of the home, they are often uninvolved in their child’s digital life. Two-thirds of parents never play a video game with their kids. Many of them have no idea about the type of social media that their children use or what they are doing on the Internet. The majority of parents feel as if they know too little about video games and social media even to have a conversation with their children about these topics.
Given the amount of time children are engaged with screen-based technologies, it is imperative that parents, educators, and childcare professional become active partners in using these technologies with children and ensuring that they are used appropriately. Parents should play video games and watch TV with their children. In order to do so, they need to become more knowledgeable and actively participate in children’s use of all screen-based technologies and digital media.
Here are some articles and videos that could help:
Playing Video Games with Kids (Article on why parents and adults need to play games with their kids.)
Research Says That Parents and Kids Should Play Video Games Together (Excellent article by Jordan Shapiro on the research supporting parents playing games with kids.)
Questions and Answers about Kids’ Social Media Use (Great advice for parents on a variety of issues pertaining to social media use.)
Why Playing Video Games Makes You a Better Dad (Thoughtful article by Jordan Shapiro on how games make parenting connections.)
Not a Babysitter – Why Parents Should Play Video Games with Their Kids (Great, fun, and insightful video by “Extra Credits” that discusses the benefits of playing what kids like to play, video games.)
Games We Played with our Parents (Why We’re Single) (Cute video of young adults romanticizing their childhood experiences of playing video games with their parents.)
Video Games Can Strengthen Adult-Child Relationships (Three-minute documentary about games, learning, and adult/child play.)