CUSD Cares

The Impact of Video Games

November 05, 2019 Brenda Vargas Season 1 Episode 10
CUSD Cares
The Impact of Video Games
Show Notes Transcript

Brenda Vargas speaks with Victoria Saylor, Arizona Regional Manager of Education at Common Sense Education, on the impact that video games have on our children.

Brenda Vargas:

Welcome to CUSD podcast. This is Brenda Vargas with Victoria Saylor. Victoria. How are you today?

Victoria Saylor:

I'm great, thank you. How are you?

Brenda Vargas:

I'm good. I think I failed to mention in our previous podcast you're the Arizona Regional Manager for Education with Common Sense Education. And so I think I failed to mention your title. So those of you that are tuning in for a second time, this is our second podcast with Victoria. Today w e're going to be talking about the impact of video games and what Common Sense.org has found out as a nonprofit. And just share with us just really vital information. I know a lot of, I shouldn't say b oys, it tends to be sometimes more gender specific to boys, but girls as well do video gaming that students, this is something that I think school a ge children and up because I have a teen myself and even older than that, it's something a great way they find to unwind by playing video games. So what can you tell us just to start; I know we have some parent concerns out there that I've chatted with some parents as to the love of video gaming, let's put it that way, to the point where t hat's all that they w ant t o do if they're not at school and if t hey're home.

Victoria Saylor:

So like anything too much of even a good thing is bad. So even if they are playing high quality educational video games, we still want to create that balance for our kids and we want to help them achieve it. So setting those boundaries, making sure that their settings are safe, making sure that they are having just as many in-person relationships as they are online. We want to make sure their friendships are intact, that they don't only have online friends. We want to make sure that they still are able to have those in-person friendships because we want to make sure that they can continue to develop their communication skills. But another really great way to ensure that they're getting that balance is to play with them and then maybe saying, okay, when we're done let's do this. Offering them another activity that is engaging as well. Not just turn it off, but having a plan. A lot of times what we like to say is make a plan, not a ban because the minute you ban something they want it more. Right it's all psychological. So making a plan, not a ban, but finding high quality games as well. Video games can impart really important lessons from math to music to social emotional learning. They also learn best through variety. So if they are going to play video games, maybe encourage a variety of video games so they don't get just stuck on one and then it becomes this obsession of theirs. So e ncourage that. There are a lot of people who make a living out of the video games. So it might not be such a bad thing, but we want to make sure that they're using video games with that balance and making sure that those privacy settings are set to private, even the younger games, A nimal Jam or Minecraft, those are also designed to have a chat feature. So if you don't want your kids chatting, you can go ahead and turn that chat feature off. And again, playing with your kids, even if they're high schoolers is a good way for you to see who their friends are online. When that name pops up, Oh who is this person or I've never met this person, this is your friend? Because t hat could be a red flag because m ayb e Andrew online isn't Andr ew online? Maybe he's not a 16 year old, maybe he is a 26 year old. So asking those questions, making sure that your kids know that you are going to be monitoring, and having those conversations with them.

Brenda Vargas:

And I know that my teen , when he is playing video games, he puts on the whole headset; they're in their own world. And so I'm listening to the conversations as well as the banter that goes back and forth between teenage boys during video gaming. So I always usually have a follow up as to who was such and such, is that person at your school because I think they think they're in the comfort of their own home, they're safe and that whoever is on the other end... There isn't that fear that we had probably growing up because we were not exposed to online gaming. We didn't have that available to us. So there isn't so much a fear, I would say from those children that are playing online video games with people that are not physically there.

Victoria Saylor:

Yes they have not known a world without technology. So for them, anything that's technology related is fair game. It's normal, it's acceptable. They're not afraid of it. They're not afraid of sharing things online. They're not afraid of being public. They're not afraid. They still want to protect their privacy somewhat, but they're okay making these friendships online. It's just a way of their life.

Brenda Vargas:

Yes. It's a way of life that is so true.

Victoria Saylor:

We still need to make sure that we give them what our family values are going to be. Again, going back to what we said in a previous podcast about it's going to look different for every family and just making sure that you've set those boundaries and guidelines before you give them these devices or gaming consoles.

Brenda Vargas:

And you mentioned co-playing that would certainly increase their self confidence, that's for sure. Because if any parent out there is like me, I'd be horrible at it.

Victoria Saylor:

It also increases their self esteem because you're asking them to teach you something now, so now you're empowering them to be the teacher and it helps them feel important. It also helps them see that you're interested in something that they enjoy, which is really important.

Brenda Vargas:

Especially if it's something they're good at. For those students that may not find that they have any strengths because they do reach sometimes a point developmentally where they're like, I'm not good at anything. And there is that comparison between themselves and every other peer. Everyone else.

Victoria Saylor:

Yes. And I'm going back to the online friendships. That's not a bad thing. Some kids don't have a lot of friends in person, so being online and being able to make those online friendships is actually a good thing for some of those kids. We just want to make sure that they aren't just having online friendships or replacing their real friendships for online friendships.

Brenda Vargas:

Not all or nothing. And I'm so glad you mentioned that because to them, their friendships are no different. They don't really see a difference because they are connected to someone. It's just the world that they're growing up in is so different like I m e ntioned before.

Victoria Saylor:

And it is good for some of those kids that might be shy or slow to warm or not as competent in real life. Maybe they're not outgoing in person, but online they're so outgoing and they've made so many friends because it's just more comfortable for them that way.

Brenda Vargas:

And they can take risks that they maybe normally wouldn't have.

Victoria Saylor:

We just want to make sure that the risks they are taking are within a good parameters guideline .

Brenda Vargas:

Yes. I'm so glad you mentioned that because we need to be cognizant that just like not everyone learns the same way, not everybody makes friends exactly the same way. There's no right or wrong way. We just wanted to make sure to keep them safe. So our job is really to equip parents with the tools that will be out there and say it's okay. The fact that it's being done this way and making sure that they have balance. I know you mentioned just briefly some games like Minecraft, which I know is so popular among certain age groups and chat features. I know some parents that say, you know what, my student or my child really sets up all the technology in my house because they know more than I do. I can't keep up with them.

Victoria Saylor:

That's what we try to do . We try to help parents see that there are ways that they can improve their technology skills, but using their kid as a helper is really empowering. But don't just wash your hands a bit and say, Oh, it's moving too quickly. I don't know anything about technology. You need to make sure that you are keeping just as current as your kids with technology.

Brenda Vargas:

Well I'll bring up an experience back when Snapchat had started and of course I added it to my phone. I'm sure there's some parents out there just like me. And sometimes that's how I get the most information from my teens then a text message. So sometimes meeting them where they're at is what we need to do I guess is my point.

Victoria Saylor:

And if you want to know more, we have What Parents Want To Know under our parents site. if you have any questions about a certain app or a certain game, we also have our ratings and reviews. So if your child is playing a certain video game and you know nothing about this video game, you can go onto our ratings and reviews and look it up and it'll review it, it'll tell you what it is, it'll tell you age appropriateness of that video game. So we have a lot of information for you so you might not know everything. But if you go to our w ebsite i ts a great resource for parents.

Brenda Vargas:

I'm so glad you brought that up in regards to the ratings piece, because I know there's quite a bit of violent video games out there, which are the ones that probably are the more popular ones. And I think from a parent perspective, we want to give permission, but it not be the worst of the worst. And it's knowing the details of how bad it is. How violent is it? What will they really see and be exposed to as a 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old whatever the age y our child is. So there is that much detail in the information in the rating that if I as a parent clicked on and typed in one of the violent on es...

Victoria Saylor:

Yes, they will say what kind of violence they'll see and we don't recommend it for kids under the age of whatever or this video game has a lot of pop up ads. Sometimes some of those online games they're going to get ads. So things like that that you wouldn't even think of.

Brenda Vargas:

I wouldn't h ave thought of the p opup ads, that's for sure. So i t'll be that specific of information that'll have on there. Oh, that's fantastic. I think parents will find that extremely helpful.

Victoria Saylor:

We also have lists on our website like top 10 best apps or games for 10 and under or for 16 and over. We have lists that you can also look at.

Brenda Vargas:

That's great especially as we approach the holidays and we're looking o r aunts and uncles and people in our family are looking for what to get. Let's say we have our child and they're into video games they seem to find joy in and they l ike to do. When do we know it's reached t he capacity that it could be a problem or is there a concern? What are some of the signs or things that we should look for as a parent or a caregiver?

Victoria Saylor:

Well, always wanting to be on it obviously, right? Every time they have a spare moment they want to play video games. If you have the console in their room, some kids have it in the room, always being in their room, maybe behavior changes. They're becoming more agitated. maybe lack of sleep because they're spending so much time on their games. When you're not looking, declining grades, any kind of red flag, a lot of times of tension is building in the family. Those are all negative effects of too much of anything, right? Much in the same way too much talking on your phone or too much phone use just in general. So things to l ook for: aggression, declining grades, lack of sleep, mood changes. If you do take it away, those responses, outbursts that come with it are all red flags. A child wh o's o k ay a nd has balance, when you do say it's enough, there'll be ok ay w ith it. So those are some red flags.

Brenda Vargas:

And I'm so glad you mentioned what some of those red flags would be or what they would look like. I think it's important for parents to know sometimes we get used to how our children react, and sometimes it just becomes normal.

Victoria Saylor:

And you can put parental controls on the video consoles too . So make sure that you are letting them know that you're going to do this or if you want to have them check out their controllers those are all things you can do as a parent and it's going to look different for every family. But those are some things that you can do. And as long as you communicate that beforehand and not just use it as a taking away then that's the culture that you're setting in your family. And then I think the trust is built upon that .

Brenda Vargas:

Yes. And those parameters as to when it's appropriate time to play on it, when to unwind.

Victoria Saylor:

Are they going to earn it? Are they going to have to do their homework first? Are they only going to have video games on the weekend? Is there a place they're going to keep their little controllers and then do they have to check them out? Things like that.

Brenda Vargas:

That seems right without the actual device or pieces of the device, you can't play the games. So that is a great way to monitor that piece. But every family needs to do what works for them within the parameters that you know are comfortable for them. I think sometimes when things are busy, because we live very busy lives, the hustle and bustle of a typical day, especially a work day for most parents, it's easy to dismiss when they have made themselves busy on that video game because it allows a parent to maybe get dinner ready or maybe do some of the other pieces. Time goes by so quickly when we're busy.

Victoria Saylor:

We do also have the Parent's Ultimate Guide to things. So parents ultimate guide to Fortnight, parents ultimate guide to Roadblocks, parents ultimate guide to Call of Duty or whatever the new one is. I can't keep up. There's so many.

Brenda Vargas:

I'm sure there'll be a new one this holiday season.

Victoria Saylor:

As soon as you figure one out, another one is developed. But we do have those parents ultimate guides to help as well.

Brenda Vargas:

And I'm so glad you mentioned that. Would parents find that on the website as well?

Victoria Saylor:

Absolutely. And then we want to make sure that we're making our games safe. Right? Our gaming safe for our kids. So just making sure, like we said, setting those parental controls, making sure you know who they're playing with and monitoring their use.

Brenda Vargas:

Those are all really good tidbits. I'm so glad you were able to share them with us. I know this is for some of us a topic of conversation that is like picking and choosing your battles as parents. But I think it's important for these considerations to be taken into place, especially if you're seeing signs in which this is their only way to cope and to deal with just either be connected or just did to deal with things every spare moment. So just approach with caution and make sure that we have some good tech balance as we're making this an opportunity for them to be creative, unwind, and maybe this is t heir version of play.

Victoria Saylor:

If you want to set those guidelines, be familiar with the parental controls. We also have articles on that. We also have guides to understanding parental controls and how to implement them. Sometimes you need to download an app and add it to the console.

Brenda Vargas:

That could be a class in itself, Victoria.

Victoria Saylor:

So going there and reading articles or guides - step by step. What to do. I don't know how to do that. If I had to do that, I would have to go and see how do I add this parental control because it's not always so clear cut.

Brenda Vargas:

Usually it just takes some time before setting it all up. So it has to be intentional and it has to be something that is important to you to do that then you'll look up that information.

Victoria Saylor:

A lot of parents don't know you can set time limits on some consoles. I didn't know that when my kids were gaming. I gave them the device and said there you go, Merry Christmas. Thinking I was the best parent ever. Never stopping to think I should put a parent control on t here. I should set a time limit. I didn't know they came with all that or that I could add it.

Brenda Vargas:

Well, I don't know if you've gotten this response, but mom, we have no school today. Right. If it's a weekend or a holiday time or a break of some sorts, they like to put in that there's nothing wrong with playing seven hours of Fortnight straight during the day, I'm getting so good at it.

Victoria Saylor:

Right. Or for every hour of media use or of video games, you have to go outside for an hour. There has been times where kids bank it, well, okay, if I get another hour then I'll go outside for two hours. There was an example of one man that said okay , I think his child banked three hours or something because the dad was busy and just let him do it. And he goes, okay I'll go outside for three hours. So his dad took the son on a three hour bike ride. And he never wanted to bank It again. Dad said we're going to go for a bike right now. You need to get some exercise. And so making sure they know that you're one step ahead of them.

Brenda Vargas:

Yeah, that's great. Healthy coping for that student because right now it's fall here in Arizona. So it's a great time to be outside and out and about and breathing the nice fresh air and do some things outside. Victoria, I'm so appreciative that you had the opportunity to come and be with us today and share this information with parents. W e'll certainly have you back. I want parents to be aware that Commonsense.org is the website if they need to find you o r if they have questions. And they'd like to reach out. It's Victoria Saylor. So it's vsaylor@ commonsense.org. I know you're based in Phoenix. We're lucky to have a Phoenix local office. Can you share with the parents the other offices in the U.S. because we feel blessed.

Victoria Saylor:

Yes. So we're headquartered in San Francisco and we've been around for 15 years, and then they've opened offices in Washington DC, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Phoenix. And we just recently were added this year. So we're really excited.

Brenda Vargas:

We're really glad you're here. We appreciate the work you do. It's very needed. Parents, thanks again for tuning in to a nother C USD podcast, and hopefully you'll join us again. Have a great day.

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