As the presence of video games in the lives of children and increasingly adults who grew up with them continues to expand, the opportunities and challenges of raising kids to create a responsible relationship with video games grows as well. This is a challenging topic that requires a deep understanding of video games as well as parenting and psychology to tackle with real depth, which the Penny Arcade Report crew and notable Microsoft Xbox team member Eric Neustadter (as well as a surprise guest psychologist from Canada whose names eludes me) were uniquely qualified to discuss.
Kuchera repeatedly emphasized the importance of maintaining consistency in policies and results with kids, to establish a standard that negative actions have consequences. His suggestions could be best described as battle tested, mixing parenting techniques with an understanding of the challenges that both parents and children face in a rapidly evolving and increasingly sophisticated world of technology. One of the biggest surprises for me (and based on the informal poll conducted by the panelists, most of the audience) was the level of depth and granularity that Xbox Live offered for parental controls. I was unaware that useful tools such as the ability to control a child’s friends list and the type of voice and/or text messages they can receive were readily available to parents,
The discussion points that really stuck out to me concerned the challenges of maintaining parental guidelines and standards for kids that were playing games both online and in-person out of the home, and how to detect as well as affect changes in these environments. Video game addiction, behavioral modification and the perception of the relationship between reality versus fantasy among other parenting concerns are all real problems with no singular solution, and the panel tackled these difficult points of discussion with a combination of pragmatism and patience.
One of the main reasons I ardently follow the Penny Arcade Report is its commitment to discussing challenging and under-represented topics related to video games, and their cleverly named panel at PAX Prime 2013 offered a lot of interesting discussion and usable parenting techniques towards a complex issue.