Do your kids spend hours playing video games? Even if video games aren’t your thing, playing with your kids can be a great bonding experience. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!
If you’ve been following along with these blog posts for some time now, then you might know my story. I’m a non-gamer married to an avid gamer who is raising three daughters, at least one of whom would identify herself as a gamer. While I’d rather read, run or write than spend time virtually gaming, I would be in the minority in my household. My oldest and my husband can spend and afternoon battling it out on Fortnite while my two younger daughters can whittle away the hours (and the money in my bank account) playing Roblox.
It’s not that I’ve never enjoyed video games. I used to think I was a whiz at Dr. Mario back in the day, and I still like to play a few rounds of Solitaire before I tuck into bed for the night. I’ve written enough articles about video gaming to know that there are undeniable benefits in video gaming for kids (and adults), and I know the industry is big and getting bigger. In other words, I’m the odd (wo)man out who doesn’t like to game.
But my husband and daughters bond quite a bit over gaming. Sometimes I’ll overhear them at the dinner table discussing a lost Fortnite battle or favorite weapons in a given game. I’ve heard tips being exchanged regarding a slew of video games and sometimes feel left out of the conversation. I’ve literally never played Fortnite in my life and haven’t the faintest idea what they are talking about when they are deep in conversation about strategies and weapons.
And then it dawned on me. I’m missing out on this way to bond with my kids. It made me wonder- should I take up video gaming as a way to connect to my gamer children?
Playing with kids as a bonding exercise
I do a lot with my kids. I take them to all their after school activities. I help with homework. I take them on yearly vacations and seasonal trips to everywhere from the zoo to the waterpark. I prepare their meals and help with their hair and take them shopping for new clothes.
But I don’t play with them like I used to. When they were little, it was easy to stop what I was doing and pick up a Barbie doll or an Elsa toy and bond with my girls using fake voices and a deep imagination to create a world we could all escape into. But, as they got older, the imaginative play stopped and so did my playing with my kids.
When I do things for my kids, I am helping them, sure. But we aren’t necessarily spending time engaging in an activity we are both enjoying when I drop them at gymnastics practice or put a braid in their long blond hair. We are merely working together to accomplish a task rather than spending time together doing something we enjoy.
While gaming may not be something that I enjoy, it is definitely something that they enjoy. And, after reading this article from Psychology Today, I’m more convinced than ever that I, at 40, should start the journey toward becoming a gamer as a way to connect with my ever-growing kids.
Four reasons to game with your kids
- You can moderate what your kids are seeing and having access to. Not sure if a game is right for your child? Sure, you can Google it and read a dozen articles about what content in the game your kids may or may not be exposed to. Or, you can just play the game with them! If you guys stumble across content that is upsetting or disturbing, you can walk the journey alongside your kiddo rather than trying to do damage control after the fact.
- You can bond with your kids. Okay, maybe you’d rather play Barbie or Thomas the Tank Engine, but, let’s be honest- you don’t actually want to play Barbie or Thomas, do you? I don’t! I simply used to love playing Barbie with my kids because they loved it, it was engaging and it was fun. Well, now their interests have changed because they’ve gotten older and it’s time that I change, too. If they like video games because they are fun and engaging, well, I need to get onboard!
- You can use video gaming to your parenting advantage. My kids will do anything to get more screen time. I can use gaming together as a reward for a job well done or an incentive to complete a household chore, such as vacuuming. Knowing that they will not only get to spend time gaming but also have my undivided attention while doing so will hopefully be a pretty large incentive for my kiddos to get done what needs doing around the house!
- You can gain a deeper understanding of your child as you game with them. Deciding what game to play, after all, can be super revealing in and of itself. Playing a sandbox game such as Roblox tells me my middle daughter likes to have creative control and use her imagination to unlock a world of opportunity. My older daughter, though, prefers games like Fortnite. She wants something quick and fast-paced with a finite end. My youngest daughter loves playing Solitaire like I do because it involves logic and thinking. The games they choose to play can help me understand them a bit better and what makes them tick, which can help me better understand how to parent them most effectively.
What video games will you play with your kids?