The Internet touches all aspects of your children’s lives. When you’re looking up an unfamiliar word in a dictionary, your kids are more likely to use dictionary.com. When you use the phone, they use instant messaging. An even bigger difference can be found in the way they play. Where the games of your parents’ generation may have involved a game board, cards, or, in its most sophisticated form, a console system, the games your children play online can be much more complex.
They mine for gold, expand empires, fight dragons and aliens alone or with tens, hundreds and even thousands of their fellow players. All of this creates a confusing confusion of names, places, slang, and jargon that can leave you with no idea what your kids are actually doing and a vague sense of unease that some of this may not be good for them.
What is appropriate for your children is a decision that only you can make. How much violence they are exposed to, how much time they spend in front of a screen, and how much contact they have with faceless strangers so common on the web are questions that you must face and ultimately decide for your family. While we cannot help you make these difficult decisions, we can certainly help you gain the information you need to better understand your children’s hobbies, both to make informed judgments about what they should and should not do and to help you achieve another part of his life that once might have seemed like a kind of puzzle box.
The simplest type of online game is the Flash or Java based type of game that usually runs in your web browser. This type of game tends to be relatively simple compared to the standalone games described below. Common examples include Bejeweled, Zuma, and Diner Dash. These games are almost universally single player and do not have any violent or adult content that will keep parents awake at night. If they were movies, they would be rated G, and maybe the occasional game would extend to PG. If this is the type of game your children enjoy, then feel relief. So, try the game. Many of these games can be a lot of fun even for the most casual gamer. Some, like Bookworm, even have authentic educational content. These games can be an opportunity to bond and learn as much as throwing a baseball in the backyard, and they have the added bonus that it is much easier for your children to sit with you and play.