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Game education in families with children

This article was originally published in the Game Educator’s Handbook.

Essentially, adults can support children’s controlled gaming and positive relationship to media by being open and curious and getting to know the game cultures suitable for their children’s age level. Many parents and guardians are concerned about what kinds of contents are suitable for young gamers and how to encourage balanced gaming.

Children’s skills to control their gaming and understand game cultures develop from an early age with the support of their social network, and especially their parents. With young children, gaming should be practised gradually, and above all together.

The models offered by adults, discussions and exploring games together help children to understand the many different aspect of gaming. What kind of game is fun? How do I feel when playing this game? In the game, which things could be true, and which are really a fairytale? What would happen if someone drove their car into the sea like Super Mario? Gaming together and discussing games together strengthen children’s media skills. Diverse discussions also support children’s safe use of media and protect them from harmful content. At best, children also learn how to avoid it themselves.

For many children, young people and adults, gaming is a pleasurable pastime and often also a hobby with a goal. The games that interest the adults of a family may be different from those that interest children, but it is still a good idea to play together. Digital games can be considered a digital form of play, one that evolves alongside traditional games and plays.

Children enjoy playing games together, and many also wish that they could play together with an adult family member. Adults should seize this opportunity. Playing games together creates shared experiences and positive memories of spending time together and of adults being interested in what children like to play. When gaming together, children learn many skills by example from adults and from solving the challenges of the game together. These skills help them to navigate digital culture and other social situations. Not all people who raise children play games themselves, but we all remember how rewarding other games, the joy of discovery and improving your reaction speed, for example, can be. Games provide opportunities for experiencing these, among other things, and adults should take part in them.

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