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A Family Day gaming guide

(NC) Some people think of video games as being unhealthy or unsafe for kids, but with a few smart strategies and ground rules, they can be a creative outlet for youth, provide stress relief, improve critical thinking skills, encourage self-esteem and help develop socialization skills.

Gaming can also be a great way to create treasured memories on a long weekend like Family Day. Here are some tips to help you bond with the kids – and keep them safe when you’re not around to monitor their activities.

Ask questions
Before getting your kids a new game, ask them a few questions, including what it’s about, where they heard of it, who they know who is playing it and what they should do if they come across something inappropriate in the game. You could even try playing the game with them – it will open up the opportunity for more detailed and ongoing conversations with them.

Also look up the official audience rating for any game your kid wants to play. You can read online reviews and check out online videos of people playing the game to see what it’s like.

Get involved
When it comes to multiplayer or online games, teach players how to report any cyberbullying or inappropriate behaviour, consider disabling chat for younger children and review the settings regularly. Keeping the gaming console in a common family room and connecting the sound to a shared speaker are also great ways to keep an eye on their gameplay. As your kids get into video games, have regular chats about what they’re playing, and ask them what they like and don’t like about the games.

Time it out
Screen time is a big concern for many parents, especially as excessive amounts may cause eye strain and affect mood, behaviour, physical fitness and social skills. While recommendations on exact amounts vary, moderation is always a good choice, so set household rules to make sure your family understands the limits.

When it comes to video games, experts from Telus Wise, a free digital literacy education program, suggest encouraging your kids to take breaks when they’ve accomplished something in gameplay. That boost to self-esteem can make them want to keep playing, but it’s also a way to pause on a high note so they leave the game feeling good.

Living in a digital age brings lots of challenges for parents, but there are also plenty of tools to help. Find more free tips and resources at

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