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Introducing your kids to video games


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I spent a lovely day with my two closest friends and their sons over the weekend (a two year old and a five month old) and the topic of computer games came up amongst us, when they might allow them to begin playing any, understandable fears they might have about them being exposed to games not really suitable for their age at any point...etc. 

 

Neither of my friends are gamers, or carry any real childhood nostalgia for gaming, and not being a parent myself the conversation got me wondering about when and how our own LCVG parents here came to introduce kids to gaming, how you manage what they're allowed to play, how long they're allowed to play for...etc.

 

I'd love to be able to pass on any advice on such things for the years ahead as my friends are so disconnected from how varied games can be these days that they have no real exposure to how brilliant a lot of them actually are. My first instinct would be to encourage them to engage in gaming themselves whenever the day comes when they sense their kids taking an interest, and approach it as something they can enjoy together as a family.

 

It'd be great to hear some of your stories. 

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My daughters are grown now but, I used the age ratings to determine what was ok for them to play and what wasn’t (for real - no GTA or anything Mature). And anything I was interested in myself or was going to play anyway I played through a first time solo to make sure it was ok (like Shadow of the Colossus) or played through with them assuming it was “known safe” like Mario Kart (before online). These days it’s a lot easier to setup child accounts (I did so for my granddaughter who’s now 5) 😊 on the Switch or consoles so she has access to the games I select and can’t go online on her own. I helped her mom (my oldest daughter) setup a primary account on the Switch so she controls online access and everything from there. We can still play MK online together that way using the 2 accounts and 2 copies of the game but, her mom only allows her to join my lobby and I of course set it to friends and invite only so it’s only us + AI. 
 

On PC I think this is more complicated but, I know you can do your own Minecraft servers and stuff like that so maybe it’s more “sandboxed” than child account restricted. I’m sure some of the other guys can add way more to this too. 

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So funny. You say all these things implying you’re a protective, restrictive, caretaker of children’s media innocence, and then I legit thought you were playing Mortal Kombat (MK) with your grandchildren.

 

But you meant Mario Kart. That’s less funny.

 

I can offer advice about minecraft server, I even have an admin app I made for my daughter. Not sure if it is user friendly enough to share though.

 

But I’m useless for general child control management in gaming because I am an incompetent, permissive, and generally irresponsible and borderline abusive parent when it comes to media, technology, and gaming.

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My kids are 5 and 2. I’ve attempted to introduce some games to my 5 year old. So far I have played with her pretty much every time she’s played anything, and have tried to introduce games that are appropriate for her, but also have tried to find ones she would enjoy playing. 
 

When it comes to media (mostly TV shows), right now she is pretty understanding when she’s told something “is for older kids”. I’m sure that understanding is going to be short lived though as she starts kindergarten and is exposed to more from her peers. 
 

We’ve also tried to not allow her to play games on our iPhones or iPad as we don’t want them to view these devices as games and movie machines that are available at any time. She plays games on the grandparents iPads occasionally, and enjoys that, but for now we can limit that to those times. 
 

Finding console games she actually enjoys playing though is actually the bigger challenge right now. While there are plenty of games with a kids theme, many of them are actually quite difficult for a small child that doesn’t quite yet have the motor skills to navigate a character through a world without getting stuck, dying immediately, or getting frustrated. She enjoys MK……… Mario Kart, but still has troubles understanding how to steer, navigating a character through a 3D world with an independent camera is basically a no go, and even a 2D game like Mario requires more coordination than she can provide. 
 

Even Kinect games, which you’d think would be ideal for a small child are a frustrating experience of keeping them in view of the camera, and making sure the camera can actually see this smaller than average human…. and whoever thought exclusively motion based menu navigation was a good idea should be shot. 
 

For parents that are non gamers, I’m not sure what the best course is here though. I think it might be best to wait until the child brings up the topic and shows some interest. But that means they are being exposed somewhere else, and that there is less control over what they are experiencing.

 

They could start with some simple games on a computer or tablet. My daughter really does enjoy simple educational number, word and colouring games. A tablet is shockingly intuitive for kids, and while my daughter cannot figure out a mouse, she did pick up the trackpad quite quickly. 

 

But I wouldn’t really recommend just buying a Switch and a few “kids” games, as I feel like that will lead to an expensive device sitting unused. 
 

With that said, I’m trying to find an original 2DS for my daughter even though she’s never played one, as I think that would be good to have. 
 

What my daughter has enjoyed:

- Paw Patrol: On a Roll - this is literally the perfect starter platformer for kids. It teaches basic 2D platforming skills, but here are no enemies or pits to die in. It does get a bit repetitive though

- Yoshi’s Crafted World - Easy mode makes it hard to die, and I can play with her to help

- Mario Maker 2 - I was able to make some very easy levels to get her started with how the game works

- Kinect Party - A fun Kinect game that practically plays itself

- Just Dance (and other dancing games)

- Mario Kart 8

- PS4 Playroom

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5 hours ago, Graeme said:

For parents that are non gamers, I’m not sure what the best course is here though. I think it might be best to wait until the child brings up the topic and shows some interest. But that means they are being exposed somewhere else, and that there is less control over what they are experiencing.

 

They could start with some simple games on a computer or tablet. My daughter really does enjoy simple educational number, word and colouring games. A tablet is shockingly intuitive for kids, and while my daughter cannot figure out a mouse, she did pick up the trackpad quite quickly. 

 

But I wouldn’t really recommend just buying a Switch and a few “kids” games, as I feel like that will lead to an expensive device sitting unused. 

 

I don't foresee their two year old taking an interest any time soon, I'm really just trying to soften some concerns they have about that day eventually coming since it came up in conversation. Since those concerns are really born out of their own lack of engagement with gaming, which is totally fine and understandable obviously, it'll be good to let them know there's little to fear and that they might find themselves enjoying the discovery as much as he might in the years to come. I would actually like to at least show them the Switch at some point on a future visit while the little ones are napping out of sight, not with intent on selling them on buying one, but again just to show what's out there. Again I should stress that they're not anti-gaming by any means, it's just a case of them never having really followed gaming at all. I know from their personalities that they'd probably actually love a great many games themselves once they see the variety of what's available.

 

Right now even I was just happy sitting with their kids at the weekend and play with the exact same make of wooden train set that I hadn't even thought about since I was a small child 😃 I can see why some parents might worry about their little ones moving on from tactile toys to gaming. I'm curious where things like Minecraft fit in and whether it takes away from that or actually ends up complimenting a child's interest in something like Lego...etc.

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8 hours ago, foogledricks said:

But I’m useless for general child control management in gaming because I am an incompetent, permissive, and generally irresponsible and borderline abusive parent when it comes to media, technology, and gaming.

 

It's hard not to think of you when playing Disco Elysium. 

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Kinect Party is the best most accessible distraction for young kids at parties.
 

Smash brothers is pretty organic when you give two young kids controllers.

 

Towerfall is pretty awesome once they’re of age. 

 

Castle Crashers rules when they’re at that point

 

All Open World games are opportunity, just hand them a controller in a safe place.

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My son's breakthrough with gaming was at age 5 with Disney: Rush (not Kinect) which is on GamePass.  He struggled with the third-person camera levels at first, but really took to the Lightning McQueen racing levels, then worked his way up to the 'more 3D' levels.  Now he's 6 and obsessed with collecting all of the characters in Lego Marvel Superheroes 2.  He's already started watching YouTube videos about that game probably more than he actually plays it, something I didn't see him doing so soon.  We are definitely moving into that stage where we want to limit screen time and foster other interests in meat space. He has also played some Mario Kart on the DS and Mario Wii with my wife and I.

 

Our 3 year old daughter doesn't care much about games yet.  She'll try to play along occasionally, but she's too young to understand what's happening.  She will play the occasion simple mobile game, she seems to like the ones where you take care of a baby.

 

As for advice:

- If you allow your kids to play any mobile games make sure you require your password for any purchases.  Like, make damn sure.  You'd hate to spend $100 on a new hat for a Paw Patrol dog or something.  If you have an old Android phone just for your kids you can set it up in kids/managed mode.  Keeps things locked down a bit.

- Finding games about things they are interested in helps.

- GamePass is pretty sweet as a parent.   Lets kids test out a bunch of games without buyer's remorse.

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1 hour ago, foogledricks said:

Kinect Party is the best most accessible distraction for young kids at parties.
 

Smash brothers is pretty organic when you give two young kids controllers.

 

Towerfall is pretty awesome once they’re of age. 

 

Castle Crashers rules when they’re at that point

 

All Open World games are opportunity, just hand them a controller in a safe place.

 

I'm confident a toddler could beat me at Smash Bros.

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On 7/5/2021 at 2:19 PM, Angry the Clown said:

Neither of my friends are gamers, or carry any real childhood nostalgia for gaming, and not being a parent myself the conversation got me wondering about when and how our own LCVG parents here came to introduce kids to gaming, how you manage what they're allowed to play, how long they're allowed to play for...etc.

 

So, I have two boys — one 9 and the other 5 — and they were introduced to video games simply by virtue of the fact that they live in the same house with their old man. They’d watch me play, and very early on, would want to participate in some way. Usually, this meant simply holding a controller and pretending to play while I did all the work. I tried to keep the games I played in front of them E-rated, but I might slip in something a little older if it wasn’t too violent or explicit.

 

As they’ve gotten older and started to play games on their own, I’ve found that they are very good about telling me exactly what they want to play. Sometimes it’s a game that I introduce to them. Often times, though, they bring a game to me that I never would have suggested. Think Minecraft or Farming Simulator 19. I always love it when they get into a game I bring to them — either as players or spectators — but I’m always more interested to see what kinds of games they discover on their own and want to play. It’s like I get a glimpse of their personalities every time they do.

 

I grew up in a house that didn’t impose any real limits on screen time (or I guess it would have been “TV time” back then), so we tend to be pretty relaxed as far as how much time they get to play games. I do impose downtime when they need to go to bed, but that’s pretty much it.

 

If I had some advise for your friends, it would be to not sweat it unless the kids bring it up. And even then, they will probably tell them exactly what they want to get. 

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