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Video Games and Children

Playing video games is a popular pastime for children and teenagers. The latest video game systems and video games are always hot topics for these kids and their parents. And, many parents struggle with the question of whether these games are good or bad for their kids.  

The short answer is that it all depends on the games and how they're played. When it comes to your child and this popular form of entertainment, consider these basic parenting tips.

First, decide as a family what your boundaries are for video games. How much time each day can your child play them? Will getting to play depend on finishing homework or chores? Will playing be allowed only during certain times? What game content is acceptable in your house? Are certain games off limits? Are games with profanity okay? Will you allow cartoon-style violent behavior in games and draw the line at realistic violence? Will your kids share a video game system, and how will that work? Making these decisions and setting clear boundaries early improves communication and avoids confusion and arguments later.

Once you have your boundaries down, stay informed. Know about the content of games and pay attention to the latest information on video gaming and its effects on kids. The National Institute on Media and the Family ( puts out excellent information on video games. Check out what video game ratings mean and search for individual game ratings at the Entertainment Software Rating Board website ( To look at video clips and read video game enthusiasts; game reviews, you can go to sites such as Gamespot ( or IGN ( Most importantly, take some time to play the games with your son or daughter. It takes a lot of work to stay on top of it all, but it's worthwhile. 

Often, kids like to get together and play video games in groups. If your son or daughter is heading to a friend's house to play video games, call the other parent(s) and ask what games the kids are playing. Share your family's video game boundaries and ask about theirs. Pass on anything new you've learned about the vast world of video games.

Above all, keep the family conversation about video games going. With good guidance from you, your child can use video games for what they were intended - fun and relaxation.