Teaching our children to click clever
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How do we make sure our children reap the benefits of the modern world, without coming to any harm? Susie Kelly investigates.
With technology now firmly embedded in our children's lives, controlling the flow of information going in and out of our homes can feel like an impossible task. Innocent searches can bring back not-so-innocent results, making us nervous about what's hitting the screen.
But technology is also incredibly useful. Never have we had such immediate access to everything there is to know on almost every subject. From Shakespeare to world politics, from recipes to life in faraway places, there's not much our internet browsers can't fetch. Not only that, but information online is enhanced with videos, pictures, sounds, real events and up to the minute details, helping us to expand our minds as well as retain facts, figures and worldly-knowledge.
And the same goes for video games. There are so many benefits to playing games – they can be rewarding, diverse, stimulating, they explore relevant themes, invite us to ask questions and give us an opportunity to come together.
But the world of games can be baffling, exclusive and even scary. Just like us, our kids need some down time but many of us worry games, for whatever reason, aren't a healthy pastime.
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Andy Robertson is the editor of www.askaboutgames.com and one of his focuses is to answer questions parents and players have about video game age ratings, and provide advice on how to play games responsibly so that families can get the most out of them.
'Parents can see that their children love playing games and they can often see how they are educational too, but they're not sure how to get involved themselves,' says Andy. And without knowing what the games are or what's best for your child, Andy says it can be difficult for parents to make informed decisions.
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'Because they're out of that conversation, they often let the child play what they want to play.'
Funded by UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) www.askaboutgames.com is a great place to go for anyone looking for more information on games so they know what their children are playing.
On the site, you can look up popular games and find out not only what they are about but also about the things to watch out for so you can decide whether they are appropriate or not. Get hints, tips and advice and read about other families' experiences with gaming. Have a read through the FAQs or ask your own question for support on a particular issue.
'By demystifying games, we're putting tools into the hands of parents to help them develop an enthusiasm for games themselves and to take control of the situation so they can say not only, 'don't play this game', but also, 'play this game instead',' says Andy.
'Games provide an opportunity for creating a unique way for your family to enjoy entertainment - they are another genre.
'You can discover a whole new side to your children by playing games so don't miss out.'