Maybe you haven’t played a video game since PacMan gobbled up the colored pellets in the flashing maze, but while you’re self-quarantined with the family, a battle of the joysticks might be just the right bonding moment.

“The current situation of families being cooped-up at home together is absolutely the best time for parents to play video games with their kids and enjoy other types of media together,” said Dr. Paul Weigle, associate medical director for ambulatory services at Natchaug Hospital, part of the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network.

Sure, you might be more used to cajoling your kids to do their homework instead of playing “MineCraft,” but this is the perfect time to have them show you what their favorite games are all about.

Dr. Weigle called the process “active media supervision,” which he explained “has been shown to have tremendous benefits for children in terms of behavior, academic success and even physical health.”

Gaming together, he added, can:

  • Allow you and your children to have an enjoyable time while fending off the robot army, racing go-karts or even taking your place on the mat for a dance-off.
  • Enable you to better understand something about the fantasy world video games bring to your children. It also proves to be a healthy role reversal, Dr. Weigle explained, as your child can be the teacher and you can model how to be a good listener and learner.
  • Encourage you and your children to talk about specific games and how they relate to values and lessons. This, he said, can lead to you guiding the kids to make healthy media decisions in the future.

“The biggest reason that parents give for not doing active supervision is not having the time. This pandemic means that parents finally have the time to do this for their children,” noted Dr. Weigle, a national expert on video gaming addictions and chair of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s Media Committee.

For more information on help available from the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network, click here.