Online Video Games Can Be Emotionally Damaging Territory for Kids. Here’s Why You Should Let Them Play Anyway

Video games are a training ground for real life in more ways than one.

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I wanted to write an article titled something like “Why Kids Shouldn’t Play Video Games, and It’s Not Because of Violence.”

Here’s how that article would’ve gone:

Rigorous studies have completely failed to demonstrate any link between video game violence and real-life crime. But maybe, just maybe, you should still keep your kids away from gaming, and I’ll tell you why.

Within one hour of picking up the new video gaming craze, Fortnite competitor Apex Legends, I was called the following via text messaging or voice chat:

  • idiot
  • stupid
  • the worst teammate I’ve ever seen

There were also a couple of slurs I won’t repeat. These players (they weren’t all kids, either) didn’t seem to notice (even though the screen informs them of this directly) that I was a new player without much experience. If they did notice, it didn’t stop them from taking their anger at losing out on me, the weak link in the chain (Apex Legends is a game played in randomly assigned squads). 

If violence isn’t bad for your kids, surely bullying is. 

The End.

Of course … I would’ve fleshed out the article a bit more than that, but those are the basics. After a bit of introspection, though, I realized that me warning children away from video games was just a reactionary defense of my own self-esteem. 

You know what? I actually think your kids should play games like this one. Why? Here are the two biggest reasons: 

1. It prepares them for life beyond.

Life is unfair, the deck is stacked, and everyone knows it. People judge you less on your character and more on how you affect them personally, so it’s good to grow up understanding that. 

2. It’s a teaching moment. 

As a parent, sure, let your kid play games with strangers online. But if you’re going to do that, then you should know the consequences. Know the environment, know the risks, know the stakes.

When your kid plays a game, ask them how it went. Better yet, be an audience. Watch, listen, and learn how strangers treat one another online. When it goes south, be there to guide your child’s emotional response. 

My oldest is only three. But me personally? I do wish I could join in on a new, popular game without being shouted at with terms that would make my grandmother blush. However, I also wish for a million dollars and a special universe without poverty or plagiarism.

In other words, don’t let your kids play video games online if you’re worried about their safety. On the other hand, do let your kids play video games online if you’re willing to be their safety. 

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