Rules of the [video] game

March 17, 2012

I like expert advice. If I don’t know how to do something, rather than blunder along trying to figure it out, I turn to someone who’s smart on the topic. When it comes to parenting, my advice-seeking started with the pregnancy how-to What to Expect When You’re Expecting, then moved to Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and then on to Montessori Today.

Now I’ve found a great guide for the latest challenge my family faces: video games. Technology and high-tech parenting expert Scott Steinberg’s The Modern Parent’s Guide to Kids and Video Games is now available as a free download and offers a lot of practical parenting solutions to our screen-saturated world. With chapters such as “Common Concerns about Video Games,” “Setting Ground Rules,” and “Guidelines for Healthy Gaming,” and a myriad appendix topics such as “How to Setup and Use Parental Controls” and “Video Game Glossary,” this guide gives parents a solid foundation to navigate the video game world with their kids.

To be sure, this is not the guide for parents who plan to keep video games away from their kids. The first few chapters are geared toward convincing parents that kids actually need video games in their lives: “The great thing about video games nowadays is that kids are learning new skills without even knowing it,” Steinberg writes. “Experts have seen increases in lateral and critical thinking, problem solving and dynamic decision making amongst players, not to mention obvious improvements in hand-eye coordination. In fact, much of what kids get out of games maps pretty closely with the skill sets required of 21st century job seekers.”

Get it? No video games now equals no job later, or so we’re told in this guide.

Nevertheless, while Steinberg takes a more pro-video game stance than I’m able to, I applaud a main message in his guide: If you are going to let your children play video games, play with them.

“Ultimately, expert consensus suggests that the choice of whether games can be beneficial or detrimental to kids comes down to fundamental playing habits, exposure to age-appropriate content and, most vitally, active parental involvement and awareness,” Steinberg writes.

The Modern Parent’s Guide to Kids and Video Games will help parents get up-to-speed with the technology, see things from their kids’ points of view, and hopefully make peace with parenting’s latest challenge.

For more about parenting in the digital age from the guide’s author, check out this Mashable.com Q&A with Scott Steinberg.

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