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A family of three plays a VR game together.

Video games are incredibly popular options for entertainment, allowing people to immerse themselves in a virtual world on their screens. You can expect to find all sorts of genres for gaming, including horror, survival, first-person shooter, RPG, and more. However, finding age-appropriate games for your children can be difficult, especially if you don’t want them to get influenced by strong language and sexually explicit scenes.

Choosing video games for your younger sibling, child, or relative involves doing a quick review online to determine whether the game is age-appropriate and worth playing. It is not uncommon for parents to want to shield their children from external influences, especially if the children are not of age.

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Let’s explore an older gamer’s guide to selecting age-appropriate games for their kids.

How to Choose Age-Appropriate Games for Children

Children go through various developmental stages, each with its own set of cognitive, emotional, and social changes. Recognizing these stages is crucial when selecting video games for your children. For example, younger children may benefit more from games that focus on basic skills like hand-eye coordination and problem-solving. Older kids, on the other hand, might engage better with more complex narratives and strategic thinking.

Although gaming is pretty inclusive, children find different things entertaining. Some might gravitate towards first-person shooters (which is appropriate for teenagers), while others may enjoy role-playing games involving character level-ups and immersive storylines.

However, since many games are rated for strong language and even sexual content, you must ensure that your children are playing age-appropriate games. Exploring the latest gaming trends and reviews will inform you of the game’s content, helping you choose the right options for your kids. Let’s look at ways to choose age-appropriate games for your children.

1. Check Age Ratings

A young child plays a video game, holding a Nintendo controller.

One of the first steps in choosing age-appropriate games is to check the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings. These ratings provide guidance on the age appropriateness of the content, helping parents make informed decisions regarding video games.

Ratings typically range from ‘Early Childhood’ (EC) to ‘Adults Only’ (AO), so be sure to choose games with ratings that align with your child's age and maturity level.

Some games like Tekken and Mortal Kombat involve a lot of fighting and combat, which may not be appropriate for young children. However, Tekken is preferable to Mortal Kombat since it doesn’t involve graphic deaths and gore. Buying ones whose ratings align with your child’s age is the best way to choose the right games.

2. Research Game Content

Before purchasing or allowing your child to play a game, take the time to research its content. This includes reading reviews, watching gameplay videos, and exploring online forums. You should look for games that align with your family's values, especially ones that offer positive, educational, and non-violent content.

Many people may not expose their young children to video games since there is an inclination to become addicted to their screens. However, as long as you research the game content yourself and designate strict time schedules for gaming, your child will be entertained without spending hours every day playing games.

Gaming trends and reviews can help you find age-appropriate games. However, you should go the extra mile in researching what the game involves since there may be elements that you don’t want your children exposed to, such as violence and sexual scenes.

3. Consider Educational Value

Many games are designed not only for entertainment but also for educational purposes. As an older gamer and parent, you should look for games that promote learning in areas like math, language, problem-solving, and creativity. Several game developers create engaging and educational content that can enhance your child's cognitive skills while keeping them entertained.

Puzzle games may be a good start if your child is showing an interest or aptitude in creativity and critical thinking. However, role-playing games have incredibly captivating storylines that can serve as pure entertainment for your children.

Exploring credible video game blogs will help you choose games with a lot of educational value. This genre of games can create interest in new hobbies for your children, making them a net positive for your child’s growth and development.

4. Engage in Co-Play

Parents co-playing a video game with their child.

Playing games with your children provides a firsthand understanding of the game’s content. It allows you to assess whether the game is suitable for your child's age and maturity level. 

Co-playing is an important way to improve bonding and communication with your children since you can discuss any concerns or questions arising during the gameplay. Children will always treasure the memories they share with their parents, especially if you make an effort to play multiplayer games together.

Some of the classics from PlayStation 2 are Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monk and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Even if these aren’t exactly age-appropriate games for ten-year-olds, you can play them with your kids so they don't get negatively influenced by the content.

5. Set Time Limits

Establishing healthy gaming habits involves setting time limits for your child's gameplay. Excessive screen time can have negative effects on sleep, physical activity, and general well-being. So, you should enforce reasonable time constraints to encourage a balanced lifestyle and prevent potential issues associated with prolonged gaming.

Game addiction is a serious consequence of unsupervised gaming. If your children become addicted at a young age, they will likely waste a lot of time indoors, glued to their TVs. Instead, you want your kids to have a diverse range of experiences in their developmental years that don’t involve countless hours of video games.

Gaming blogs often tell parents exactly how to monitor their children’s timetables when it comes to gaming. Adopting these strategies prevents your children from spiraling into game addictions.

6. Encourage Social Interaction

Some games offer multiplayer features that allow children to interact with others online. When choosing multiplayer games, you should know the level of interaction and communication involved. It makes sense to opt for games that promote socialization, teamwork, and communication while avoiding those with excessive violence or inappropriate language.

If you know anything about online gaming, you will be aware that games like Call of Duty and Counter-Strike involve a lot of swearing and racist slurs online. Letting your children get exposed to this can normalize improper speech, causing them to become influenced negatively. Since online gaming fosters social connections and interactions, you should choose ones with milder gaming communities rather than trolls and bullies.

The Importance of Age-Appropriate Games for Children

Choosing age-appropriate games for children involves looking at various factors like educational value and ratings, which parents must consider. Video games can be beneficial for a child’s development, especially if parents choose ones that promote learning and critical thinking. However, let’s be clear that most video games are solely for the purpose of entertainment, which isn’t a bad thing.

As a parent and older gamer, you can help your children choose games that are most conducive to their growth and development. Game strategy blogs can help you identify the perfect options, so do your research!

Let’s look at the importance of age-appropriate games for children.

1. Cognitive Development

Age-appropriate games play a vital role in enhancing cognitive development in children. These games are designed to align with children's level of cognitive abilities, providing challenges that are engaging but not too difficult. Early childhood games often focus on fundamental skills such as hand-eye coordination, pattern recognition, and basic problem-solving. 

As children grow up, they can progress to more complex games that stimulate critical thinking, strategic planning, and decision-making. The Uncharted series is fairly entertaining and involves a lot of puzzle-solving, which is good for helping children think outside the box. However, it may be too difficult for pre-teens since the game requires excellent hand-eye coordination for aiming weapons.

2. Educational Value

Young children browsing a catalog of educational games on a tablet.

Many age-appropriate games are created to be both entertaining and educational. These games incorporate learning elements, helping children acquire new skills in a fun and interactive manner. Educational games often cover a wide range of subjects, including mathematics, language arts, science, and more.

By seamlessly integrating learning into gameplay, these games transform screen time into valuable educational experiences, contributing to a child's academic growth. Parents can nurture learning in their children by choosing games that balance education and entertainment. Too much entertainment can take away from education, so it’s good to find games offering a balance of both.

3. Social Skills 

Certain video games are designed to encourage social interaction and teamwork. Multiplayer games, when chosen with care, provide opportunities for children to collaborate with others, learn effective communication, and develop teamwork skills. 

Cooperative gameplay creates a sense of community, teaching children the importance of working together to achieve common goals. This social aspect is crucial for children’s overall development, particularly as they navigate real-world social situations.

However, online gaming is a tricky slope to navigate for parents since it is difficult to control how people speak to each other. Many gaming communities are full of trolls and toxic gamers, making it necessary to explore gaming blogs for age-appropriate games.

4. Emotional Regulation

Age-appropriate games often incorporate narratives and challenges that resonate with a child's emotional development. These games can help children explore and understand a range of emotions in a safe and controlled environment. 

Whether overcoming obstacles in a game or experiencing different story arcs, children can develop emotional resilience and learn to manage their feelings in a healthy way. This aspect of gaming contributes to emotional intelligence, which is an invaluable skill throughout life. They can learn to express their emotions healthily without creating barriers around what's acceptable.

An excellent game to consider for pre-teens is the Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy X is considered one of the most emotional games of its time, with a dense storyline and several character development arcs. With some research, you can find many other games to encourage your children to regulate and express their emotions.

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