The biggest issue with video-games in the families I work with is whether parents are engaged with purchasing and playing the games themselves.
Because video-games are complex and unfamiliar it's easy for mums and dads to withdraw from this side of family life leaving the kids in control.
I recently worked with GAME on some research they were conducting. This highlighted the issue with 40% of parents admitting to feeling unsure of what to buy. While understandable, the consequence of this is that many parents 'buy blind' or leave purchasing decisions to the children.
A common response to parents in this position is to berate them for not doing better. However, finding the right information and advice is not always easy. With PEGI ratings now the single rating system things are much more straightforward but historically this hasn't always been the case.
Equally, parents often look for advice from other family members and friends. If there is no-one on hand to offer some person-to-person recommendations it can be hard for parents to find a trusted voice on the matter.
A big step in the right direction here is the GAME Junior section in GAME shops. This not only offers a place for families to find age appropriate games but also trained staff ready to suggest the right games for particular ages. Seeing this in action while we created our videos it was clear that parents are keen to make more informed decisions when provided a route to good advice and appropriate information.
Alongside this the PEGI ratings themselves also play a part in promoting positive gaming. The clear age rating on the front of the box and further information on the back are backed up with details online about how the age rating was arrived at.
In this area I've found that my 2 Minute Guide videos, that bring together all that PEGI information along with a brief introduction about what makes the game enjoyable and popular, are popular with families and make this research much easier and less time consuming.
Underpinning all of this is parents being more involved in the games being played in the home. This isn't easy, particularly when gaming isn't something you've grown up doing, but can make a big difference.
The research showed that while 40% of parents polled admitted to making an excuse not to play video-games with their children, parents who did play with their kids were are more likely to see the benefits (65%) compared to those that don't who feel more cautious.
Some good learning for gaming and non-gaming parents in all this, that will ensure video-games continue to be a positive and healthy experience in the home.
Sources: GAME parents panel July 2014 805 parents polled, One Poll survey September 2014 1,000 parents polled.
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