More than 50 years ago, the first computer game was developed. Today, “gambling” is an important part of many children’s and young people’s leisure activities. New computer games are released every year – it’s not easy to keep track of them all. We have tips on how to recognize a good computer game that is suitable for your child.
In Germany, there are legal requirements for the release of computer games. The Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) checks which games are suitable for which age and pays attention, for example, to content containing violence. These age statements – in the app store, on gaming platforms such as Steam or on DVDs – are a good orientation. However, parents should consider other criteria for choosing a good computer game, as the USK age ratings are not an educational recommendation.
A good computer game can promote the development of certain skills in children. Suitable games promote strategic thinking, memory skills and similar memory skills through puzzles or other tasks. Many games are played together with others. Social skills such as tolerance, empathy and the ability to work in a team are required. Action games support the development of dexterity, orientation and perception. In addition, playing computer games can help your child learn to cope with success and defeat and give space to his imagination. By playing together, children can maintain friendships or even build new ones. Children and young people can also try out different roles. Just from the title of the game, you don’t know if a game promotes such skills. Therefore, talk to your child about the game. The descriptions and pedagogical assessments of spielbar.de, the Spielatgeber NRW or in the app database from the Deutsches Jugendinstitut can also be helpful….
Check how the computer game handles personal data. If the provision of personal data is not required or if it is not stored, not passed on to third parties and not used for advertising purposes, data protection is taken seriously. In addition, GTCs or information on data protection should always be available.
Free or paid games available online may include in-game or in-app purchases. For example, game players are enticed to unlock new game features or get better costumes for their avatars. Talk to your child in advance about such possible costs and agree on rules about whether and how much money may be spent. Avoid putting your own credit card or PayPal information on the shared device. On smartphones and tablets, you can also set password locks for in-app purchases.
Many parents are concerned that their children will come into contact with too much violence in computer games. The effect is strongly dependent on the age and individual factors of a child. The USK classifications will also help you here. Violence or other content that is not age-appropriate can be appealing to children because they want to test their own limits. In addition to violence, interacting with others during the game can also be overwhelming, such as when too much is going on at once. The game chat also allows your child to get in touch with unknown fellow players.
To assess what your child is playing, how he or she is doing with it, and whether he or she is having contact with strangers, you should talk regularly and without judgment about his or her play experiences. Let your child show and explain his or her computer game world to you. Agree on common rules and be consistent in following them. Educate yourself about age recommendations and stay alert to changes in your child’s behavior to assess possible negative effects.