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Guest Blogger – Andrew Browne

I was going through the back catalogue of one of my favorite YouTube channels the other day and came across this video and it really struck a chord with me as both a passionate gamer and the parent of three beautiful children under 5. The video is a touch over three years old now, but it’s still relevant today – perhaps even more so. I recommend all parents with young kids, regardless of whether or not you are a gamer yourself, stop reading this now and watch the video.

Welcome back.

Now, if you’re not a gamer and pay any attention at all to the news you may be under the impression that video games are only for antisocial losers who are on the fast track to committing a mass shooting. While this isn’t the place to discuss how inaccurate this is and why the media do this, what it does do is promote misunderstanding and fear of video games. And that can be very harmful to your relationship with your children.

Gaming culture is now so mainstream and intertwined with modern culture worldwide that, no matter how hard you try to stop them, your children WILL be exposed to video games to some extent and it will start from when they’re toddlers. You can either chose to embrace this and participate alongside them, helping to guide their first steps from when they’re old enough to stop dribbling on the controller. Even if they leave you behind as they get older, it’s still something positive you shared and can help open conversations when your children need it.

Or you can be afraid and negative, either making it something your child feels alone doing or attempting to outright ban your child from them. That will create a divide between you, a sore point used as ammo to provoke or prolong an argument.

The non-gamers reading this may be going “That’s all well and good, but I only know Grand Theft Auto and/or Call of Duty from the News and neither are suitable for my toddler”. Well, I’m here to help!  Here’s a few examples of games I play with my kids:

Abzu – available for PC and Playstation 4

An undersea adventure of a game that came out only a week or two ago at time of writing. It’s stunningly beautiful, both visually and musically, and simple enough that both my two and four year are able to control the action with minimal assistance. They’ve learned heaps about marine animals, things like the difference between fish and whales/dolphins or that there are sharks that eat plankton.

Spintires – PC only

A bit of a surprise, but my two year old loves this one and has christened it “Bumpy Truck” (which is very cute!). He sits up on my lap steering while I work the pedals at his request for “forward” or “back”. He’s worked out how a steering wheel works and that running into trees/rocks/deep water is bad.

Slime Rancher – PC only

A bit too complex for the two year old, but the four year old loves it. Bright, colorful and the slimes make cute, if odd, farm animals.  She’s learning a lot about about farming practices, like planting crops and feeding domestic animals, plus a bit about economics when selling the produce of different types of slimes. There’s also an element of physics as you can vacuum up slimes then shoot them out so they bounce around.