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Play is vital to children's development yet under threat. It is the means by which they practise the skills to thrive in adulthood. But for 50 years, children's opportunities for free play have been declining as parental fears, increased homework, automobiles and lonelier neighbourhoods keep them off the streets, out of the fields and behind front doors. And yet, the drive to play remains untamed.

02/05/2024 / 11 weeks ago / Andy Robertson

Using video games in education is not a new idea. The opportunity seems clear. On the one hand, teachers work to engage students in learning. On the other hand, children rush to video games for engagement in their free time. Combining the two is a no-brainer, right?

20/03/2024 / 4 months ago / Andy Robertson

There are many reasons that children love to play video games. However, most of the talk about this rushes to protect children or accuse video games. This underestimates children and misses many of the reasons they play video games. I was inspired by Luke Billingham and Keir Irwin-Rogers' book on Youth Violence, to find a new way of talking about excessive video game playing that sheds fresh light on its benefits and reasons.

24/01/2024 / 5 months ago / Andy Robertson

Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a new game from Nintendo that introduces parent-like talking flowers that react to the player. It’s a lovely touch, that runs against the usual separation of child-like and grown-up play. As I’ve played through the game with these companions bringing parent-like punctuation to the action, it’s made me wonder why video games are considered a pursuit for childhood, and why play is seen as superfluous to adulthood.

07/12/2023 / 7 months ago / Andy Robertson

As a video game journalist, father and sometime video game player, I’ve spent the last 20 years around people who put play at the top of their list of important activities. Through YouTube, broadcast on the BBC and writing in Forbes I’ve interacted with millions of children, young adults and grown-ups about their love and of video games.

30/05/2023 / 13 months ago / Andy Robertson

It used to be very simple to share video games. You would hand a friend or family member the disc or cartridge and they would take it home to play. With the majority of games being purchased digitally, without a physical box, disc or cartridge, it can seem like game sharing is a thing of the past.

26/05/2023 / 14 months ago / Andy Robertson

An important step towards healthy family gaming is getting an accurate understanding of the kind of media games are. This gaming inventory is a structured way to start mapping, navigating and guiding this part of your child's life.

14/09/2021 / 2 years ago / Andy Robertson

A big driver of which console you choose may well be the games your children want to play. While the most popular titles, like Fortnite and FIFA are available on all systems, there are some titles that are only available on one particular platform.

13/09/2021 / 2 years ago / Andy Robertson

Here's the story of video games, so far, and what sort of kit you need to consider getting to play them. As you can see, much of this technology you probably already own.

11/09/2021 / 2 years ago / Andy Robertson

Like most ways to play, video games are fun on your own, but much more fun with other people. Online video games are a positive and connecting way to play. However, as children move into this space it can be hard to know how to protect, support and guide them.

25/08/2021 / 2 years ago / Andy Robertson

We are still working out what video games are, and how to talk about them. Unlike books or films, we don't yet have a very developed way of talking about the wide-ranging benefits and experiences that video games offer. Over the years I have used different metaphors to help uncover hidden aspects of video games.

27/07/2021 / 2 years ago / Andy Robertson

It's easy to assume that video games are too complicated, quick or confusing to be enjoyed by those of us who didn't grow up with them. However, much of this comes from not having the experience and understand of how video games help lead us into their worlds.

27/07/2021 / 2 years ago / Andy Robertson

Getting the technology set up to access the games in this book – and automatically keep things safe and sensible – isn’t complicated or expensive, although, yes, I know it can seem like it when you encounter it for the first time.

27/07/2021 / 2 years ago / Andy Robertson

Before a console, it’s worth asking friends and family whether you could borrow one to try it out. Failing that, you can purchase second-hand consoles and older smartphones at a discount price (and often with a shop warranty for peace of mind).

27/07/2021 / 2 years ago / Andy Robertson

Online gaming is an increasingly important part of the gaming experience for children. These are games that enable multiple players to collaborate and compete when not sat in the same room. These range from football and car racing with a few other players, to online war games involving hundreds of other players from around the globe.

27/07/2021 / 2 years ago / Andy Robertson

If you’re giving a new game console, smartphone, tablet or portable gaming device as a gift to a child, it’s important that you set things up yourself before wrapping that big present.

27/07/2021 / 2 years ago / Andy Robertson

As children get older they will likely ask for games that friends are talking about in the playground. There is no rush to get the latest titles or gaming consoles, and before you do it’s good to consider which games are must-haves and which are optional. This will inform which game hardware you decide to purchase. An Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo game console is a good way to keep this simple, as they come with everything you need in one package.

27/07/2021 / 2 years ago / Andy Robertson

To guide children to healthy video game enjoyment we need to understand them in a holistic way - the games as well as the children. If a child is obsessively reading books, we have a sense that there is something good happening here regardless of the content of the book. We understand that the process of reading has many benefits.

26/07/2021 / 2 years ago / Andy Robertson

We all have different amounts of time available to play games in our lives. When children come along how much time we have to play games changes again. Games have to fit in around everything else going on.

13/07/2021 / 3 years ago / Andy Robertson

'But there's nothing else to do,' is a common refrain from a child who has been stopped from playing yet another hour of video games. 'I just want to chill out with my friends,' is another emotion children point to when their playtime has been limited.

17/06/2021 / 3 years ago / Andy Robertson

Everything we’ve discussed so far is all well and good, but doesn’t there come a time when enough is enough – or, rather, too much is too much? Engaging with video games, having healthy conversations about them and guiding your child’s play sounds good on paper. But what about children at the extreme end of the spectrum, where common sense and balance has become impossible in the face of obsession?

17/06/2021 / 3 years ago / Andy Robertson

Some children love video games more than other forms of play. The common thinking is that they were susceptible to the tricks of a powerful industry with coercive technology. They got distracted from healthier hobbies.

17/06/2021 / 3 years ago / Andy Robertson

Understanding the role that video games have in a child’s life not only clears space for parents and carers to guide them towards healthy habits but uncovers the benefits that video games have to offer.
Children aren’t stupid. They don’t play video games just because they’re exciting, easy to access and what their friends are doing. They play because of a range of benefits that, being children, they can’t fully articulate.

17/06/2021 / 3 years ago / Andy Robertson

Video games are relatively new. They may have been around for many years, but we are still only just starting to understand what they are and what that means for us and our children.

17/06/2021 / 3 years ago / Andy Robertson

Video games aren't what they first appear to be. It's easy to assume they are only junk food, and see our job as minimising them in the lives of children. It's common to see them as powerfully persuasive and tricking children into playing longer than they want to.

17/06/2021 / 3 years ago / Andy Robertson

‘If you’re worried about video games’ effects on children, why not just keep them out of the house?’ … ‘You wouldn’t leave your child with a bottle of vodka in their room, so why a video game?’ … ‘It’s simple, read the age ratings and just say no!’ … ‘Just limit them to an hour a day if they’ve done their homework and chores.’ … ‘Say no to the brats.’ … ‘Don’t let games rewire your child’s brain.’

17/06/2021 / 3 years ago / Andy Robertson

The video games I played growing up were offline. If I wanted to play against someone else, I would have to take my console and large, heavy television to their house and fiddle with the network settings before we could play. It was exciting, but the complexity meant it was something for special occasions.

17/06/2021 / 3 years ago / Andy Robertson

In the past video games have struggled to maintain profits from young audiences. The industry has pursued a variety of business models, from targeted family games on the Wii to movie tie-ins and selling toys that unlock in-game characters and levels as in Skylanders. This area of the market is still changing at a rapid pace.

17/06/2021 / 3 years ago / Andy Robertson

Addiction is a worrying word for parents and carers of children who play a lot of video games. Children are absorbed by the gaming screen, twitching and grimacing as they play and often unaware of the world around them. They can find it hard to stop when asked to come to the table for mealtimes, do homework or go to bed. They appear to be obsessive and compulsive about their gaming.

16/06/2021 / 3 years ago / Andy Robertson

Video games often involve violent virtual content. The exuberance and excitement of shooting or fighting have been fertile territory for big-budget games, not dissimilar in approach to blockbuster films. Add to this the competitive and interactive satisfaction of hitting a target with a gun and you can see why some video games have been drawn to taking this approach.

16/06/2021 / 3 years ago / Andy Robertson

With 3,068 games on the database the search tool is a useful way of finding games that suit your family. It's designed for you to select the Age Rating, System, In-Game Purchases, Number of Players and Duration to match the needs and technology of your family.

10/06/2021 / 3 years ago / Andy Robertson

In addition to the Accessibility section for each game, some systems provide built-in accessibility features. The advantage of these is that they will generally work on every game. The downside is that they are not tailored to a specific gaming scenario.

10/01/2021 / 3 years ago / Andy Robertson

Everything you need to know about getting Minecraft working online for you and your wider family. Which systems support split screen. Getting online with split-screen for more players. Playing with people on different platforms. What subscriptions you need: Realms Plus, Xbox Live Gold, PlayStation Plus, Nintendo Online and Microsoft accounts.

18/12/2020 / 3 years ago / Andy Robertson

It is becoming increasingly popular for children to want a Gaming PC rather than a dedicated Console. This is a computer with a dedicated graphics card to run games and a gamepad or gaming mouse for controls. It offers access to a wider range of games, is useful for other activities like homework, video and music editing or programming and can be upgraded rather than replaced when it's out of date. However, it is a more expensive and complex option than a console.

11/11/2020 / 3 years ago / Andy Robertson

When you are deciding which console to buy for your family there is plenty of advice about which is best: Switch, Xbox Series X|S or PlayStation 5. This page has all the information to help you make this choice.

27/10/2020 / 3 years ago / Andy Robertson

If video games invite children to new worlds that build character, sociability, well-being, intuition and intelligence then why do we read so many scary stories about them creating violent behaviour, being addictive, encouraging gambling or enabling unwanted interactions with strangers?

17/06/2020 / 4 years ago / Andy Robertson

The Nintendo DS and 3DS/2DS offers a feature for some games where you can play on multiple systems with one copy of the game. This is a great way to save money for multiplayer games.

14/05/2020 / 4 years ago / Andy Robertson

A new partnership between Hookshot Media and the Family Gaming Database API brings detailed accessibility information to reviews and game pages on Nintendo Life, Pure Xbox and Push Square.
This page groups the best board games for family by how quick they are to learn. If you want to get started with an easy game this is the information you need.

Andy Robertson

This page groups the best board games for families by how quick they are to play. If you only have a short time to play, or if you want to fill an evening this is a great way to find the perfect board game for you.
Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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