School's Out! Summer Gaming Is In

Posted by | June 02, 2015 | News, Opinion | 3 Comments
choosing a console summer gaming

The start of June marks the beginning of summer break for both kids and parents across the country. Many parents have spent the year regulating gaming time to fit around their kids’ busy schedules. With the open days ahead of us, the possibilities for summer gaming time are endless. As parents, we know it’s important to regulate gaming time but also ensure it’s fun and accessible for our kids.

Gaming Is a Privilege

I love how the positive aspects of gaming benefit my kids. But in order for them to truly value this time, they must understand it isn’t always a given. Gaming time is something they must work for. It’s like other fun summer activities, such as going to the pool, sleepovers with friends, and late-night movies. Just because it’s summer, it doesn’t mean all responsibilities go out the window.

My kids know they have to do a certain number of chores before they can even ask for screen time. If they do additional things to help out around the house, they can earn even more. This is a win-win. My kids are able to feel a sense of choice and control when they pick the chores they’ll do to earn gaming time. I also get much-needed help around the house. And they learn to value their gaming time even more.

Gaming Is a Summer Activity

When it comes to screen time in the summer, I tend to lean toward gaming more often than television or other screen-based activities. There are several reasons for this preference. The biggest is that gaming is an activity that my family does together. When I turn on a television show, my kids tend to completely zone out, not noticing anything around them until their show is over. If another show follows the one they have chosen to watch, they won’t even notice when the first program ends and the other begins.

Screen Time summer gamingHowever, when they play games, they are interacting with not only the game, but each other. My kids are still young (elementary and preschool aged), so most often they are not gaming alone, unless it is on an iPad or other mobile device. Most console or PC-based games require either myself or my husband to be in the room, assisting and playing along with them. Gaming time is family time in our home, so it’s a perfect summer activity.

One of the biggest benefits of gaming in the summer is the opportunity for learning. Summer is a wonderful break for children and families who have been going full-steam all year long. But the two to three months away from school can cause a learning gap, especially for lower income children. Educational gaming is one way to battle that gap. Through games, children can work on their skills in the highly important STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics.) Children who play video games also tend to have higher levels of attachment to school, which is important to foster during those free-range summer months.

Summer Gaming Can Get You Moving

A complaint I often hear from other parents is they don’t like gaming in the summer because they want to get their kids moving. But time spent gaming doesn’t necessarily mean sedentary time. In many instances, my children spent more time jumping around when playing an interactive video game than they do while participating in any other screen-based activity. According to Psychology Today, parents can make gaming time more physical in several ways. Children can stand up or sit on a yoga ball while playing. They can also play movement-based games. Many games on the Wii U or those on the Xbox One that use Kinect sensor may help with balance and coordination. Some games help kids achieve the same amount of movement they might spend playing an outdoor sport.

Summer Gaming Can Help Make Your Summer

The beginning of summer can feel like a relief and a burden to parents. While families get a reprieve from the rigorous school year, we have so many open hours to fill. The repeating chants of “I’m bored!” can be deafening. But with all of the options for free, fun, educational play through gaming, I know our summer will be anything but ordinary.

Want some suggestions for games that are good for summer gaming? Check out Pixelkin’s Summer Gaming List.

Megan Peters pic

About Megan Peters

Megan Peters is a mother, writer, photographer, designer and blogger, based in Kansas City. Her personal lifestyle blog, Crazybananas, is a true lifestyle blog, covering just about everything from the daily bedtime stories Megan reads with her kids, unexpected adventures, technology, graphic design, photography, home makeovers, pop culture, personal style and relationships. Her writing has been featured on BlogHer, BlogHerTech, Kirtsy, Sweet Lemon Magazine, Altitude Design Summit and Design for MiniKind. Megan is a noted photographer, who enjoys depicting the beauty of real-life women and families. "The Motherhood Project" is a collection of photographs of women, which capture the strength, joy and melancholy of motherhood and all of its challenges. In 2015, "The Motherhood Project" will be featured in its first gallery show, with all the proceeds being donated to the Willow Center, a domestic violence shelter in Lawrence, Kansas, for which Megan was a children's advocate from 2001-2004. In addition, Megan is the co-creator of the NYC + KC Project, a photography experiment that is documented in a book of the same name, available for sale on Blurb.com.