Move over, Monopoly. We’ve just entered a new era of gaming. With a raft of tech and games releases promising even more realistic gameplay, your kids will no doubt be itching to get stuck in. But with all this new kit on the market, how do you know what’s suitable?
- Reality check
The past year has seen virtual reality enter the mainstream, bringing a whole new dimension to gaming. The other big news is 4K gaming, which packs in four times as much detail as normal, giving the best picture quality yet. These advances in tech turn gaming into mind-blowingly lifelike experiences. But as the line between fantasy and reality becomes trickier to distinguish, it’s more important than ever to check that what your children are viewing is suitable.
- Get involved
Games can be played on phones, tablets, computers, games consoles and VR headsets and they can come in the form of apps that are downloaded, or disks bought from a shop. Chat to your child about the games they want to play. Look at net-aware.org.uk to see if apps are age appropriate. If it’s a console game, you’ll find a PEGI rating on the box or on the console’s online shop.
- Set the limits
Agree when and where your children can play and for how long, so that everyone’s clear on the rules. Taking breaks is important to avoid eyestrain, particularly if they’re using a VR headset. Many games let you interact with other gamers online. Remind your children not to share things like contact details or pictures and let them know they can tell you if anything upsets them online.
- Take control
You can set up parental controls on some consoles to choose which games they can play.See our page on online gaming to find out more. If they’re playing games on your phone, make sure you’ve downloaded the free My O2 app so you can keep an eye on how much data they’re using.
Benefits of finding the right app
Keep them entertained
Playing games is a good way to wind down from school
Introduce them to tech
They’ll learn useful skills for later in life
Get them communicating
Gaming lets them interact in a different way
Paper Mario: Colour Splash
Perfect for kids aged 5 to 7. Family favourite Mario encourages everyone to get crafty with this game that sees Paper Mario try to repaint Prism Island. Available on Wii U.
Perfect for kids aged 8 to 11. Great for their first foray into VR, this game will let your child experience what it would feel like to be a flying eagle. Available on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR.
Perfect for kids aged 12 to 15. This app combines fun with science. The game is to outrun a virus wave while you’re whizzing through human cells – so it’s perfect for bringing those biology lessons to life. Strap on a Samsung Gear VR headset for a truly immersive science lesson. Available on Android and iOS.
Final Fantasy XV
Perfect for teens aged 16 or over. Highly anticipated, the 15th instalment in the Final Fantasy series follows Prince Noctis as he battles to reclaim his homeland. Includes a Playstation VR mode. Available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
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