Studies show that for inhabitants of the western world, life in the modern age has gotten progressively less dangerous and more comfortable with each passing generation. So why as parents do we all seem so afraid for our children? And how do we overcome this fear and let our kids take the necessary risks they need to take in order to thrive?
This is a list of games we have created with Digital Media Wellness Educator, Julia Storm, who founded ReConnect with the mission of providing parents a whole child approach to preparing kids for life in the Digital Age.
We are used to encouraging our children to take small risks in most areas of life; talking to a new child at school, trying out for a team or the school play, climbing a bit higher at the playground or walking to the market on their own for the first time. With every risk our children take they gain confidence in their own ability to navigate the unknown and to push themselves through difficulties.
But many of our kids also spend large amounts of time online and specifically playing video games. In this space, with horror stories in the press, both parents and children can become risk-averse. This can mean that children don’t have a chance to make healthy mistakes in safe ways in this part of life.
There’s an opportunity here for parents to leverage video games to help kids take safe risks and to learn and grow from these risks. This isn’t about using games as a safe version of risk-taking in real life, but discovering how they can be a wonderful compliment to this. (We also want to note, as with all multiplayer games, parents should be sure to talk to their children about best practices for staying safe when it comes to communicating with strangers online._
Collaboration: This might be working with another child in Minecraft to build something together. Or maybe playing Animal Crossing with someone who is new to the game and needs help. Or even, just allowing other players to help you in a game like Farm Together.
- Generosity: This might be giving new players items they need to get started in a game like Adopt Me. It could be sharing some candles in Sky Children of Light. Or maybe it’s just letting a new player get a win in Drink More Glurp. This might be playing a game where you are rescuing another character, like Ico.
- Ambition: This might be trying to play a game that seems too difficult, like Stormworks or Rocket League. It could be trying out a more mature game with a parent, like Spider-Man or Horizon Zero Dawn. It could be teaming up with friends for large challenges in Sea of Thieves or Dauntless. Or maybe dealing with real physics in Teardown or Noita.
- Identity: This might be working out mental health scenarios in a game like Psychonauts 2. It could be learning to help others with their fears and anxiety in Rainbow Billy. Or maybe playing a game like Celeste that creates space to consider gender and self-doubt.
Playing these games with your child offers a unique way to start open and curious conversations about technology while they are still young and receptive. They are an opportunity for parents to be allies and mentors, not adversaries and monitors.
This list includes 34 games from the last 21 years, with 1,852 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to .