Guess what, I am an OT and homeschool mom that does not hate video games. What?? My boys both spend time most days playing video games. They have used PGA and NHL to learn rules of sports. They have built fine motor skills and visuomotor skills with Forza and Joy ride turbo. They have learned strategy and cooperation to unite against the storm troopers in Star Wars battlefront. I have no idea what they learn from goat simulator but they play this loud ridiculous game as well. My older son also stayed in contact with his hockey friends during quarantine by gaming with them.
There is a lot of research on the negative and addictive effects of video games. Much research over the years has concentrated on aggressive behaviors and other negative psychosocial effects. There is also a lot of evidence about the positive effects. Video games provide the repetition, intensity, and task- oriented training that can support the strengths and needs of our kids all while highly motivating. As with most activities, it depends on the person, their environment, and the skills they already have and are working on building. If you are a gaming family, I’m with you. If you are a screen limiting family, I understand that too. The good thing is we have the freedom to make choices and we know our kids.
Here are the basic standards we use in our house around video games
My role is to help my kids be healthy, safe, and the best people they can be- note I did not say happy, their role is to intrinsically choose joy. They know this and repeat it back to me as a family slogan. They know I hear them and their wants but healthy, safe, and best people often trumps their immediate happiness.
The best people they can be is well rounded. So, I try to expose them to many options within our environment. Not time for video games? There are many other options with games, crafts, books, and, outside time.
I try to give a concrete reason and time when playing video games. Ie play before lunch or dinner so they stop for an exact reason and time.. this decreases any bargaining or pleading
I try to model healthy screen usages too. I don’t play video games myself, but I do run a business on social media. So, I can easily be distracted by screens. I also have to be well rounded and choose joy within limitations.
Start your personal homeschool consultation with Collins Academy Therapy Services for more specific recommendations on this or other homeschool topics. I pair your understanding of your children with my knowledge as an OT and fellow homeschool mom to both recognize your children's current strengths and build upon them within the homeschool day.
Gleeson, Jane (2017, July 25). Regaining Lost Function with the Help of Video Games. Health Management. https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/health-management/regaining-lost-function-help-of-video-games
Griffiths M. (2003). The Therapeutic Use of Videogames in Childhood and Adolescence. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 8(4):547-554. doi:10.1177/13591045030084012
Jones, Katelyn (2018, Sept 25). Game On: The Therapeutic Benefits of Video Games to Occupational Therapy. Eyes on Eyecare. https://eyesoneyecare.com/resources/game-on-video-games-and-occupational-therapy/
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Sarah is an OT and home school mama whose zone of genius is bridging the gap between OT's and homeschool parents with resources to help them both thrive.