How to Bond With Kids Over Video Games

Tips for Bonding With Kids Over Video Games
Pick a game that will engage the whole family, no matter everyone's age.
Pick a game that will engage the whole family, no matter everyone's age.

Now that you know how to find a game that's kid-safe, all you have to do is start bonding. Easy, right? Well, not so much. Choosing a game with a family-friendly rating doesn't mean you and your offspring are about to make lifelong memories.

Many kids' games are poorly constructed and filled with technical glitches, erratic frame rates, brain-dead artificial intelligence and cheap deaths. If you want to find a high-quality game that will encourage more bonding and fewer broken controllers, read reviews. There are literally thousands of Web sites and blogs dedicated to video game news and reviews, so it's easy to get an idea of the quality of a given game through a simple Internet search; if you prefer print, there are several magazines dedicated to the topic available at your local newsstand.

Of course, even if you have the perfect game, you're still going to have to work (and play) hard to get in some quality bonding. As the adult, it's your job to make sure everyone has a good time. Now, that doesn't mean you can stop your eldest son from running his little sister off the virtual road, but you can try to limit your kids' frustrations. Your game of choice might allow multiple players to compete simultaneously, but if someone is aggravated or feeling left out, you can make everyone take turns. If your skills are significantly more polished than your children's, ease up and let them win a few games, and don't always beat them by a large margin when you're the victor (they'll be usurping your skills in a few years, we assure you).

It's also important to make sure everyone feels comfortable with the game and the controls, so if your 5-year-old can't manage a particular title that you've been playing with her older brother for years, choose a simpler game for the group, and save the big-boy game for special one-on-one time with your son.

Bonding is also all about communication, so it's important to talk to your kids while you play. Ask about school, friends, anything. You can even tell them something that's going on in your life that they might not know about. Anything you can all share will help you connect and will foster bonding, no matter what type of game you're playing.

Most importantly, relax and have fun. If any of you are too tired, stressed out or just not in the mood, don't force it. Bonding with your kids over video games can be a remarkably fun and interactive experience, so don't make it a chore. Even if everyone's having fun, know when to call it quits. Video games are great, but sometimes it's better to turn off the TV and go outside and toss a ball back and forth. Your virtual World Series can be saved, but that perfect afternoon weather cannot.

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  • Entertainment Software Rating Board. "Game Ratings & Descriptor Guide." 2010. (Jan 2, 2011).