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How Gaming Can Help You Connect With Your Children

Originally posted by Kieran Smith for The Telegraph on 22 April 2024

As we embark on the digital age, one piece of technology that has stood the test of time is the games console. In fact, statistics show that 76 per cent of us tried an online game in 2022

While we may reminisce of a childhood of board games and bikes rather than the latest must-have console, is there an opportunity for parents to embrace the power of gaming as a tool to build connections with their Fortnite-loving children?  

For many, gaming can seem a daunting, somewhat untraditional family activity, but it can serve as a seriously powerful means to foster a connection. Dr Georgina Taylor, child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapist, outlines how understanding the nuances of online gaming is essential to connecting with the younger generation.

“Parents play a pivotal role in validating children’s early attempts to make sense of the world by exploring together and helping them understand and celebrate their creativity,” says Dr Taylor. “However, when children enter the world of online gaming this can feel like an alien experience to many parents.

“If parents research and understand their children’s online games they will find many parallels with earlier forms of play. Minecraft, for example, uses creativity, design, exploration and storytelling. Parents can engage in discussions about this virtual world with its ethical dilemmas and challenges, offering guidance without overshadowing the child’s autonomy,” Dr Taylor suggests.

As children get older, they naturally seek independence in both online and real-world exploration. “Acknowledging the emotional investment in gaming, parents can empathise with its challenges, helping children develop resilience and reflective skills,” she continues. 

And for older teenagers who may be more secluded from parents in their gaming world, showing interest in their online experiences and the value it holds in their life can help to foster bonds, too. “Interest in a child's gaming is akin to supporting any other hobby, demonstrating respect for their interests and a desire to aid development. Empathy, understanding, and even trying out the game for themselves can help parents connect with their children, creating a foundation from the outset for open communication about both virtual and real-world challenges,” advises Dr Taylor.

Parents, often unfamiliar with the intricacies of the gaming world, can bridge the generational gap by showing a genuine interest – whether that be exploring fantastical worlds, solving intricate puzzles, or battling as their favourite in-game characters. Understanding the appeal of these games is the first step toward building a shared connection. And the next? Well, that’s to join them in their virtual adventures. There are plenty of family friendly titles to sink your teeth into. Who knows, you may even enjoy it…

Power up: 3 of the best family-friendly games by EE

    1. Mario-Kart 8 Deluxe – Nintendo Switch

The beloved racing video game series by Nintendo combines thrilling races with iconic characters including icons Mario and Luigi. Players zoom through imaginative tracks, using power-ups and strategy to triumph over opponents. This one is so easy to dive into for adults as it uses the fundamentals of driving. A real pick-up-and-play kind of title for novices and experts alike. 

    2. Sackboy: A Big Adventure – PlayStation 5 

Face thrilling challenges in Sackboy: A Big Adventure. You take on the role of Sackboy, a quirky character made out of sackcloth. Players guide Sackboy through various levels, solving puzzles, and collecting items in one of the best 3D platformers ever to hit the PlayStation. The multiplayer mode in this game is a joy for all ages. Sony’s masterpiece will have you and your children invigorated and completely in sync as you work together to fulfil Sackboy’s destiny. 

  3. It Takes Two – PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch 

It Takes Two is a co-op action-adventure platform game that will blow you away. The story follows Rose, a child whose parents get divorced. Struggling to cope with the situation, she creates two dolls representing her parents, but these dolls come to life. This is a masterpiece of a title, which will arguably engage a parent more than a child with its captivating storyline. A must-play, which is made all the better when teaming up with a youngster.

EE activates the gamer in everyone

If you’re a parent looking for gaming advice EE GameSmart helps demystify the world of gaming for parents with jargon busters, content walkthroughs and gameplay hints and tips. Keeping a stable online connection when you’re gaming is also vital. With EE broadband parents can help keep their children safe online with a range of content locks and security advice to ensure they can still have fun and stay competitive with their friends online.

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