Scarecrow or sidekick? Learn to say YES to gaming, experts advise

05. June 2024

Violence, bad grades, obesity, addiction. There are many reasons why online games are a bogeyman for most parents. But putting an embargo on them is not the answer, warn experts who discussed digital literacy at the Media for Kids conference.

Today's children do not distinguish between offline and online contact. It's natural for them to chat with a friend at the bus stop and then continue communicating from the bus online. Just like unwinding on a tablet while playing online games.

According to research, boys in particular gravitate towards gaming. Why are they gaming?

They have a need to prove something, they are happy when they overcome the next level, they solve tasks and can make decisions for themselves, which is not surprising in today's helicopter education,

said Viktória Norisová, media literacy coordinator at the Media Services Council, during the festival.

She mentioned that the system of endless rewards and opportunities for advancement often forces children to keep playing, and the numbers speak clearly: about 16% of them have already spent large sums of money on video games, 13% have been exposed to sexual themes at least once a month because of it.

But we can only talk about danger as such when gaming is an escape for children - from problems at home, at school, bad grades, bullying or abuse. But even then, it doesn't have to turn them into "addicts". According to Viktória Norisová, only one per cent of children are truly addicted to gaming, and this applies mainly to those who are often left to their own devices at home.

How to get out of it? In addition to balancing the time children spend in front of screens, the child's needs and, of course, the content play a key role.

It's important to get rid of the preconceived notion that online games are just shooting games, but rather to see them as a means of relaxation and therapy that allows children to try out different roles in life and also to educate themselves,

advises Noris.

Interactivity, creativity and strategic thinking are other reasons to say YES to gaming. In fact, there is even research that claims that children with poor grades improve at school by playing online games.

So instead of being a dictator, experts say a parent should act more like a mediator. Show an interest in the children's hobby, try to share it with them and perhaps even let them co-determine how much time they spend on the monitors each day.

The Children without Borders conference block on Wednesday featured other experts, for example, Vilma Hušková from the Office of the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting presented the topic of verifying the age of users in the online environment, while Tomáš Ondrejka from the Czech Telecommunications Office addressed the protection of minors in the online space.