Something as engaging and "addictive" as PlayStation can be handled with sound parenting techniques. Brett Haggard explains
Something as engaging and “addictive” as PlayStation can be handled with sound parenting techniques.
The content our children are exposed to can be as easily managed as the content we allow them to see on television or the big screen. PlayStation can be an effective bargaining tool or reward, for good behaviour and hard work.
In general, the visuals are extremely enticing and there’s a general tendency to be in front of the TV rather than being physically active. This leads to children being cognitively active, but the extent of their physical activity is limited to small motor controls, potentially having a negative impact on gross motor development.
Balance is important in this as is other areas of life. If a child prefers to have a PlayStation as their only manner of play, they don’t socialise with their peers and develop strong social skills.
The South African environment
Perpetuating this problem is the fact that the South African environment isn’t exactly conducive to children playing outside with the freedom that we were afforded in our youth. Parents do need to make an effort to create a safe environment for their children to play in, in the fresh air.
Inappropriate content is another concern. Parents are responsible for monitoring what kids are doing on their PlayStation and setting ground rules for content. Simple common sense applies.
Most parents would not expose their children to inappropriate content in general – there’s no reason this should be different with PlayStation. Age restrictions are there for a reason. Sometimes the content, especially the violence, in some games is very disturbing, even for adults.
The dangers of inappropriate content
If children are exposed to this kind of content at an early age, they become desensitised to violence in general, with negative effects. Characters depicted in these games can become role models for children.
If there’s a high-level of violence, that kind of behaviour is almost condoned. Parents should make sure that they know the content of the games their child is playing.
Time limits are important for managing all media. Children shouldn’t be allowed to use their PlayStation for longer than an hour a day.
While this may be met with some resistance initially, if you stick to this rule the child will accept it. An exception to this can be using the PlayStation as a reward or punishment, with extra time being afforded to your child if they’ve been good, or their privileges being taking away if they’ve behaved badly.
Keep tabs on the situation when you’re at work - even if that means locking the unit away.