Digital Parenting

For Kids Undergoing Pressure, Video Games Are A Lifeline

author
Kay Hall - September 07, 2021

Digital technology has been a transformative tool for parents. Screen time, when properly managed, can be used to help educate, inspire, and provide relief from the stresses of life. Video games can provide even more than that, with some scientific studies even suggesting that video games could be a valid form of psychotherapy, engaging with the need for escapism and new perspectives. Whether through illness, the need for better education, or for a way to help unwind when being targeted by bullies, kids need that escape in their day-to-day lives. Video games have a proven track record of providing that, and are starting to push their way into mainstream healthcare.

Utilizing MMORPGs

Massively multiplayer online role playing games, or MMORPGs, are the standard for online gaming. Typically consisting of an open world in which players are invited to create wondrous characters from a selection of options, they provide a real escapism from life. One such product is Runescape, which in particular has a mass appeal – it has low hardware requirements and can be played from a browser, meaning there’s a low barrier to entry. Runescape lovers have access to a huge and supportive community that is well-renowned within gaming circles for eschewing the toxicity associated with many other AAA titles. The game has left behind numerous good news stories; Wired reports on one girl who, at 14, was diagnosed with a heart condition that left her unable to leave the home or hospital. Runescape provided a lifeline and a way to preserve mental health in these difficult conditions.

As therapy

On a wider basis, video games are beneficial to children. As USA Today outlines, they help to build social skills and have tentatively been shown to help disperse emotions of stress, reducing the number of nightmares that affected children experience. Even when it comes to violent video games, the need for compassion and consideration has been shown, in the correct environment, to help kids control aggression. These are powerful indicators for improved development and social-wellbeing, and can be an important intervention when it comes to children facing pressure in their private lives from a range of sources.

FDA Approval

Such is the benefits of video gaming in treating mental health, the FDA have now approved video games for that purpose. The first of such products, EndeavorRX, is marketed for children between the age of 8 and 12 who are diagnosed with ADHD. Prescribed for 25 minutes of play, five days a week, for four weeks, it is noted to help enhance developmental skills and push back against global developmental delay. 

It is important to note that video games can themselves be addictive. Video game addiction is a serious, WHO-recognized illness that impacts thousands across the world. Ensuring children do not become dependent on their video games is an important step for parents to take – however, in measured amounts, video games can be a powerful force for good.

author

Kay spent several years working as an e-safety officer, dedicated to educating both children and adults on enjoying cyberspace in safety. Since starting a family of her own, she has returned to her first love of writing, and contributes to a number of websites on the topics that matter to her.