Your child plays video games: what do you need to know?
Context and key figures
Some youngsters devote all their free time, and more, to this: video games are the clear winners! 9 out of 10 young people are fans of such games. Moreover, e-sports are legally recognised as a competition sport. Video gaming is undeniably a leisure activity offering educational benefits (increased concentration, faster reactions, dexterity, etc.), and may sometimes have therapeutic qualities. Youngsters can now play video games anywhere, at any time, on any device. Accordingly, a few precautions are called for…
Choose games which are suited to the sensitivity and age of your child, and limit the time spent on them, especially in the case of younger children
First and foremost, you should consult the demos and tests to be found on the specialist sites and, where necessary, seek advice from the vendors. Check the information appearing on the packaging of video games or gaming platforms, in particular the PEGI pictograms. These provide a reliable rating enabling you to verify whether or not the content is suitable for your child. You should also read the notices issued by makers of consoles and video games, especially those contained in a 3D display which shouldn’t be used by children less than 6 years of age. Stay close to very young children when they are playing. This will enable you to keep an eye on the content and to limit the playing time. You can also use parental control tools (free of charge) on all your screens (TV, game console(s), computer, smartphone, tablet) so as to filter the content in line with the age of your child.
Teach your child to beware of online games offers which are too tempting
Lots of games can be downloaded free of charge and are free to use ("Free to play"). Some of them seek to generate a profit by proposing the purchase of add-ons or options (e.g. bonus lives, avatar development, access to higher levels, etc.), or by displaying undesirable advertising. Others require a monthly subscription for continued play. To avoid unpleasant surprises when the bill arrives, don't register your credit card number on online payment sites, and install a personal code on your child's smartphone or tablet, so as to prevent apps from being downloaded without your agreement. Moreover, if your youngster plays games on his/her smartphone, get him/her to check his/her consumption at regular intervals from the customer area.
Teach your youngster good habits …
… such as using pseudonyms and not revealing personal info, especially in the context of social network games or online. Children should also be taught about the importance of "ereputation" and privacy, so that they exercise care in that regard. Teach them to be on their guard, not to take anything at face value and above all, not to agree to meet up with any stranger encountered in the course of a game (beware of indoctrination, paedophilia, etc.). Remind them that good manners must be the order of the day, and that insults, bullying and illegal unloading of material are an absolute no-go, along with – in their case – any form of gambling. And remember that, as their parent or legal guardian, you will be held liable, and punished, for any infringement by them of the law.
Lay down clear rules with your child from the outset
To help them to get to sleep, children must not be allowed to play video games one hour before they go to bed. They must be made to take regular breaks, when the game they are playing cannot be saved. They should adopt certain precautionary principles: a good posture to support their spinal column, the back of their neck, their wrists and their thumbs. Get them into the habit of regularly cleaning their screens, joysticks and keyboards, which can be real breeding-grounds for germs. Lastly, be sure at all times to maintain a proper balance between video games, school, sport and your child's other activities (see PédaGoJeux).