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Should parents worry about the spike in their child’s video game consumption during pandemic?

Connecticut Families

(WTNH) — There’s been a spike in gaming since the stay-at-home initiative was put into place for students during the coronavirus outbreak.

“For most of us, there’s no rule book for parenting, let alone parenting in a pandemic,” says healthy lifestyle writer Caryn Sullivan who is allowing her 11 year old son, Kyle, to play more video games than usual during this coronavirus pandemic. “Under these circumstances, I’m trying not to be so rigid about the screen time. Am I worried about it? I don’t know, we’ll see.”

She’s not alone.

“They’re not bad for your kids. They’re pro-social in many ways,” says Elena Bertozzi, associate professor of game design and development at Quinnipiac University, who believes this is a pivotal moment for her industry to invite parents to jump in and share in their child’s interest.

Try playing with your kids in the video game world and you’ll really see there are so many beautifully designed puzzle games that inspire a lot of thinking and emotional engagement…games really are good. For me, they’re intellectual and complicated…Animal Crossing is a new game that’s out that a lot of people are playing together. It’s a very social game, a collaborative game.

– Elena Bertozzi, associate professor of game design and development at Quinnipiac University

Esports is providing some great opportunities for kids who miss their actual teams. “Esports is just an amazing opportunity right now,” says Bertozzi. “The growth over the last 5 years has been mind boggling.”

The World Health Organization has even partnered with the video game industry for the #PlayApartTogether campaign in response to social-distancing during the health crisis. “It’s great to see the WHO acknowledging that,” says Bertozzi.

When Sullivan’s son isn’t on a screen – playing or learning – she’s engaging him in creative activities like building Lego, playing baseball and cooking. “He’s enjoyed making his own recipes,” says Sullivan, founder of Pretty Wellness. “In fact, yesterday, he created his mac and whack cheese!”

It’s all about balance, adapting and perhaps re-working our preconceived notions. “There might be more screen time,” says Sullivan. “But there’s also more family time and some creative interactivity that we didn’t have before.”

And, an expensive console isn’t even required. Bertozzi says there are plenty of games to play on a phone – like Pokemon Go – which provide interesting ways to interact with the environment.

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