PART 2: Online Gaming and Your Child — The Basics

The musings of an empathetic mum, head of Junior Campus, and global digital citizen. (aka Mrs V).

Welcome back fellow travellers on this digital parenting journey. It is time for us to collectively cast off our insecurities about what we think we know and don’t know about online gaming and forge headlong into what has now become the fastest growing activity of our time. In fact, online gaming has become so popular that it is now referred to as an eSport. Yes you did read this correctly… I said eSport!

Now, as you carefully clean up the coffee you have likely just spilled from shock, I want you to sit back, and try and relax as I provide you with a little more information about the world of online gaming.

So what is online gaming?

Online gaming is defined as the action or practice of playing video games or role-playing games on the Internet.

Online games can be accessed from a range of platforms, including dedicated gaming websites, social media sites or through gaming consoles, PCs or other devices.  It is important to note that there are many types of online games and that these can vary substantially in both suitability and popularity depending on the age of your child.

As with great novels, online games come in a variety of genres such as: action, adventure, sports, first-person shooter (FPS), strategy, role-playing, puzzle, educational, stealth shooter, and the list goes on and on!

So how is online gaming different now from when I played Pacman, Bubble Bobble and Mortal Kombat?

The two most influential changes which have supported the massive growth of online gaming as we know it today have been accessibility and mobility. You can now game on your smart phone, portable handheld devices such as PS4s and Nintendos, iPads, laptops or many other devices that can be connected to the internet. It is quick, easy and readily accessible. There have also been striking advances in the world of graphic design, interactivity and target-audience research that simply did not exist in our day.

… that there is an entire eSport career available to a lucky few? In fact, just as the NBA sends out scouts to identify new talents for the draft-pick each year, so too there are online scouts, looking to identify players for international gaming competitions. In fact, one of my past students has recently been approached by two separate international teams to compete in Europe after they saw him compete in Sydney recently. He has even become recognisable when walking down the street.

These gaming tournaments are hosted in large arenas and attract thousands of spectators. They offer substantial prizes including sponsorships and endorsement contracts that serve to incentivise the sport for young people.

So it is safe to say that online gaming has become a very serious business. With all of the glitz and glamour that our children see and hear online is it any wonder they are begging, pleading and bribing us to let them game online.

Finding perspective — through the eyes of a child and their parent

As a parent, it is vitally important that we help our child/ren find perspective in their world. As we all know with our collective years of experience, new fads will come and go as did ‘elastics’ and ‘knuckles’. However, it would be very naïve of us to include online gaming in the same basket as Pokémon cards, Beyblades and LOL dolls. Online gaming is not going away. It will not fade into the distance and it will not become a dusty toy sitting on a shelf in the back of the cupboard. Online gaming is here to stay!

Now I need to be clear, I believe that online gaming can most certainly facilitate many positive experiences. For example, some games have the potential to improve a child’s coordination, literacy skills, problem-solving and reasoning, and allow a child to master the art of multi-tasking. It can also, when conducted safely, help build social skills through online interactivity with other players, and for some students truly allow them to demonstrate a gift and talent.

Equally, I also believe that online gaming has the capacity to isolate, elicit addictive behaviours, draw out aggression, provide an almost anonymous platform for bullying, and provide a multitude of possible risks including child safety, monetary and online security risks.

Experience has taught me that if we do not seek to educate ourselves on the world of online gaming from the perspective of our children, then we cannot possibly understand the attraction it carries for them… the good, the bad and the ugly.

Perspective is everything. So before next week when we will dive further into some specifics of online gaming, I want you to complete the following homework activity 🙂

 

Stay tuned for Part 3 were we will be looking at some some more specific aspects of  the world of online gaming

 

 Mrs V
Novice Minecraft player, Level 10 Clash Royale Clan member, firm but loving digital parent, mistake-maker and Head of Junior Campus

References and further resources:

https://www.esafety.gov.au/education-resources/iparent/staying-safe/online-gaming

https://www.esafety.gov.au/education-resources/iparent/staying-safe/online-gaming/what-are-the-risks

https://developingminds.net.au/blog/2017/1/7/17-quick-questions-for-gamingonline-video-addicted-kids-and-teens-this-holidays