Computer games and children’s guides for parents
Computer games and children is a topic that does not die out among parents. Playing is part of childhood, but is computer gaming also part of normal childhood? Of course, even the German Cultural Council says. Parents in particular are concerned about their children’s enthusiasm for video games of all kinds, fearing that the child will become addicted or neglect other leisure activities of games, checking the time on the computer, smartphone or tablet as well as protecting the child’s data, their interaction with other players, for example in online games, and intervening if in doubt. Our tips are intended to help parents.
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Children and computer games – 7 tips for parents
The most important requirement for parents to show interest in the child’s hobby and to inform themselves about the games. We have briefly summarized some of the most important tips for dealing with computer games in children.
Agree on common rules and be a role model
In addition to playing together and speaking about the games, parents and their children should set solid rules for overall media use. This includes not only the times on the computer, but also television times, smartphone use and game consoles. Arranges screen pauses, being a role model yourself and offering alternatives. Shared experiences and activities in an alternative hobby away from the computer and the console make up the optimal mix of leisure activities.
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Computer games and children: set seasons
In principle, all types of computer games are only recommended on all devices from the age of four. If you want to know when and how long children should play computers, you can use the EU initiative klicksafe as a guide:
- 4 to 6 years: 20 to 30 minutes a day (in the presence of the parents)
- 7 to 10 years: 45 minutes a day (even without parents)
- 11 to 13 years: approx. One hour a day (even without parents)
For older children, you can set a media budget per week, because it is precisely these that play more demanding games in which you can spend more than an hour in one session.
Note age markings
Above all, parents should also keep an eye on age restrictions and recommendations. At usk.de you can check whether the child’s current favorite game is approved for his age group. You can often find the age recommendation of the USK (entertainment software self-control) on the games. But this is not always the case, especially with online games. Parents can then take advantage of further advice such as the NRW game guide for guidance.
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Computer games are not an educational leverage!
Parents should refrain from using digital games as a leverage or educational tool. With bans you only achieve that the games become even more interesting and valuable for the child. This also applies to computer games as a reward.
Exchange with other parents
Children and teenagers don’t just play at home. On the one hand, the seduction of the mobile games, whose use is difficult for parents to control. On the other hand, children and teenagers visit their friends to play computer games there. The children’s friends do not always have parents who have established rules for access and use of the media with them. It is therefore advisable to speak to the other parents and to support each other.
Preserve privacy and data
Parents should advise and support your child with regard to the transfer of data and the release of personal data and pictures. The following points are particularly relevant:
- Sets up a special email address for games that does not contain the real name and does not provide any information about age, place of residence or gender
- Uses a nickname, i.e. a nickname, to which the same applies
- Does not use a real photo for an avatar (character)
- Limits the chat options or warns your child not to disclose any personal data in the chat
- Checks when installing apps which permissions they require (access to camera, address book etc.) This is especially relevant for social games, which often ask players to share game successes and the like on the network.
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Online games and free-to-play – keep an eye on the costs
Parents must pay particular attention to the fact that many free games are offered online, but these do not later turn out to be completely free. It’s about free-to-play games (F2P). You can download it free of charge or open it in your browser, but then you can spend money in the game. The types of these in-app purchases are very different. Often it is decorative items, time accelerators, but also entire expansions and game components that can only be accessed with real money. It is important to educate and convey to the child that real money is not being spent here. Some apps offer the option to block payment methods or not to release them at all.
Where can I find good and safe computer games for children?
One of the most common questions from parents is where to find games suitable for children. In addition to the review of the age recommendation by the USK, there are a number of advice websites and websites that also evaluate games pedagogically and provide information about them. In addition to our offer on muttbeispielt.de, we especially recommend:
Game guide NRW
Parents and children can find extensive information about games and the use of computer games at the game guide NRW. For this purpose, the games are put through their paces by tester groups.
Spielbar.de is an information platform of the Federal Center for Political Education. It is a collection platform for evaluations and game recommendations from various educational institutions.
The Internet ABC offers especially young children and their parents informative tips on games and the Internet as a whole. Parents can also find game ratings and educational assessments here.
On the Look there page, parents will not only find games that their children and adolescents can safely play, but above all lots of background information on games as well as lots of tips and studies on media usage.
Seal of approval and prices for orientation
In addition to platforms, there are various seals of approval that parents can use when choosing computer games for children. These include: the seal of quality “pedagogically valuable” by the Tommy and the pedi from the Studio im Netz, SIN.
Computer games and addiction – How do I know if my children are at risk?
The child is restless, withdraws, plays at strange times like at night or early in the morning, has little contact with friends? These can be the first signs of excessive media use and indicate addiction. Talk to your child or teenager, do not respond with prohibitions and seek help. An overview of detection and prevention for computer game addiction and much more information in video form is available at Schau hin, the joint project of the Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth, ARD, ZDF and TV Spielfilm.
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