Tips for Parents: Play Video Games along with Your Kids!

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Video games, including mobile games, have become an integral part of children's life, and this fact is supported by a number of different studies. According to MOMRI's comprehensive research on mobile games and educational apps for children, every child in Russia has their own gadget (most often, a tablet) by the age of 10; and 71% of all children aged 3 to 10 play video games on electronic devices. Sadly, only 15% of parents participate in their kids' playing. Psychologists recommend playing together as interactive entertainment is a new way to bond with your child and learn to understand them better.

Today, we will try to show you why you should enjoy playing mobile games with your child. The following are four reasons, as supported by different experts.

  1. Bonding.To become a true friend to your child, to be someone they can fully trust, it is important to share their emotions. That's where video games come in, as they are a source of joy and new experiences for your child. It's working together on something positive that does the trick here, just like with any other activity, whether it's Play-Doh, building bricks or skiing. Always remember that shared emotions help parents bond with their children.
     
    Vyacheslav Tarasov, Candidate of Psychological Sciences; assistant professor at the Department of Practical Psychology, Voronezh State University of Education; Gestalt therapist; lead trainer of the Moscow Gestalt Institute:
     
    "For a child, playing a mobile game with their parents is a chance to share their joy. That's what leads to bonding."
  2. A chance to experiment together. While playing together, children and their parent learn to be a team and to solve problems as a team. Many games recreate life-like situations that a child is most likely to encounter. It is important to understand how good the child is at tackling certain problems, to help them understand certain points better, find a way out of complicated situations together. Gaming experiments also allow you to find out which type of activities (whether of a creative, intellectual, or purely entertaining nature) attracts your child more: open interactive worlds of educational games like Be-be-bears have something for everyone.
     
    Natalya Kedrova, assistant professor at the Department of Child and Family Psychotherapy, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education; certified Gestalt therapist of AAGT:

    "If the parent is willing to participate, even a 2-year-old can use a gadget, as it becomes a shared toy. A tablet in the child-gadget-adult pattern is just as good as building blocks. It allows to do things together, to experiment together."
  3. Educational function. According to psychologists, games help to develop certain skills at almost any age. For a child of 3 to 4 years old, for instance, video games help with learning numbers and alphabet and improve attention span. At 9 to 10 years old, video games improve analytical skills and abstract thinking. But it's the kids who play with their parents that benefit the most. Parents should play the role of an adviser and a guide. Similarly, an ABC-book is just a learning tool that is effective only when adults step in to help. When it comes to educational video games, parents have a chance to control their child's learning process, but it's important to do it gently, without ruining all the fun.
     
    Y. B. Gippenreiter, PhD (Psychology), professor at the Moscow State University:
     
    "Video games are subject to the law of any learning process: you do something, and then you get a result, some kind of feedback. But when it comes to video games, the result might be instant."
  4. Natural way to limit playing time. When a parent is playing together with their child, it's much easier to stop the game session without upsetting the child. First, the adult sets the example, letting their child know that it's time to stop playing. There is a much smaller chance for a child to think that their parents are being unfair. Second, remember what we said about bonding earlier: by ending the game session, the parent will not invade child's personal space, and the process will not be perceived as "taking the tablet away." Third, by playing together you will make up for all the emotions the child could have had when playing alone but for a longer time. When a child is emotionally satisfied, it's easier for them to switch their attention to something else or to take a break from new experiences. Control is a very important element of parenting. Please, watch over your child's playing!
     
    From Parents' Guide issued by the MOMRI:
     
    "Without their parents, a child (especially before 7 years old) is still not self-motivated enough and does not have the notion of time to quit a fun game in time. Self-motivation is the basis of self-control. By the time a child realizes what they are doing and how they are accomplishing it, their behavior becomes random. This manifests in child's following certain rules and requirements. Please, do help your child."

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