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How Young Is Too Young For Video Games

12/07/2021

Author: Jo Robertson


Children arrive as these tiny precious bundles that we are hardwired to love and protect. I remember that first walk with the buggy, the first drive in the car when they were newborns, the first time they ate solid food: terrifying!

The world around them soon starts pressing-in and vying for their time and attention. People other than you start to impact their little lives. What their friends at nursery or preschool do and think starts to influence them. The question soon arises, how soon should your young child be allowed to play video games and how long should they play for?

I remember the 20 minutes of TV I allowed my children after lunch when they were small and how they started to use the laptop to go on the Cbeebies website and play little games. This was before the days of smartphones but they were small steps into the digital world.

There were video games around 15 years ago, when my kids were small, but nothing like the variety of games and choice of consoles that there is now. The choices and pressures parents face now, with smartphones, tablets and the like, seems much greater.

Don’t get me wrong. These things certainly have benefits in keeping kids amused when they are bored at the supermarket or if you have something you need to do. And recently, I’m sure many parents have had no choice but to use screens and video games to survive whilst trying to juggle home-working and homeschooling over the last year.

I want to encourage you not to worry about this. In fact, the reason the database is so useful is that it can help you do the opposite. Move from video game worry to video game encouragement.

Alongside the inevitable drift towards video games for young children, you can get ahead of these choices and guide them to behaviour and experiences you want for them. The goal here is to capitalise on the opportunity when children are small to make video games part of family life.

Over the last few months on the database we have researched 1000’s of games and assessed what skill level they are best for. This complements the PEGI/ESRB ratings that assess content to provide unique lists of games for each stage of your child’s development.

For example Rocket League is rated PEGI 3+ but would be far beyond the skill level of a 3 year old. This particular game doesn’t have any teenage content but is more suitable for the skill level of a 12 year old. Using the lists on the family video game database you can make a more informed decision about whether a game is going to be a good fit for your child. No one wants a frustrated 3 year old trying to play a game which is far too difficult for them.

The new Skill Rating data in the database, displayed in the lists below is a really powerful way to engage with your children’s video games from a young age. It’s an opportunity to teach them that this is something you do together and that it is a small part of the day and part of the wider context of life, rather than something that is done in isolation from the rest of their family experience.

Like reading the Gruffalo or The Hungry Caterpillar every night to my children, these games may get boring quickly for adults, but playing them repeatedly with very young children is a powerful way to set them up for a healthy love of video games in their future lives.

Games for 2-year olds



Games for 3-year olds



Games for 4-year olds



Games for 5-Year olds


Image of the cover of the hardback edition of the Taming Gaming book  by Andy Robertson Image 311 Thank you for using our resource, supported by AskAboutGames, ParentZone and PlayAbility Initiative. We are editorially independent, written by parents for parents, but welcome sponsorship, partnership and suggestions. Email our editor for details on these opportunities.

The information on this database is designed to support and complement the in-depth discussion and advice about video game "addiction", violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. If you have any concerns or questions in these areas, email our editor who is quick to respond or can arrange for a one-to-one conversation.

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