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On-line gaming advice: To play or not to play?

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In a recent Forbes article, Jordan Shapiro offers guidance to the modern parent about guiding your child’s use of on line games. He encourages parents to become more involved in their child’s gaming experiences so that you can help your child “mediate his or her relationship to the screen.” According to Shapiro there are teachable moments in these games, and they offer opportunities for kids to experience solving problems and dealing with risks on their own.

By the same token, many parents are not aware of how seductive the gaming experience can become for young and old alike. For some, on-line gaming, like gambling, can become compulsive and addictive.

Stephane Come of Orangevale is a tech savvy father of two (his son Nicolas launched a child’s healthy eating app last year). Come started a training program for kids to learn with their parents how to work with programming and building technology called Kid 2.0 and he is concerned that kids are becoming disconnected from genuine relationships with too much dependence on media (games as well as social networking).

According to Come there is an addictive element to the games. “I see a future where people (not just kids, kids having grown up on games all day long) will need a feeding tube and catheter for the ultimate playing experience,” he said. “You may think I'm joking, but I know some teenage boys that are close to this picture already. And our children are not the same after they have had time using their iPads. They are more irritable.”

Come family cyber time guidelines

  • The primary objective is to channel the use, not limit it. Our children have access to the computer for things that are productive, like doing homework or working on projects, but media apps including video games for entertainment is measured much like sugar intake for a healthy diet.
  • Screen time in our house is limited to 1-2 hours a week of movie or Netflix TV shows (weekends only).
  • We allow screen and game time (iPads) outside the house on certain occasions or situations. For example, a dinner out with my business partner where we engage in adult conversations, occasional trip to my sister in law, etc.

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