Screen Smart Families: How to Handle Video Games in Your Home

By Melanie Rainer


Video games . . . the phrase no longer conjures up just images of kids laughing around Super Mario Brothers or Duck Hunt (pretty much the only video games I ever played as a kid!). Today gaming encompasses everything from super-violent battles played online, on computers, or game systems to virtual reality games such as Pokemon Go and mindless app-based games on smartphones.

How do parents stay on top of all of the options, let alone decide what and when their kids should be allowed to play?

We asked some of our mom bloggers how they approach video games, and their answers varied but we loved how many of them mentioned that they play fun games as a family! There was definitely a theme of playing games with dads, or together as a whole family on the weekends.

The most popular gaming system was definitely Nintendo, followed by the iPad. Here are a couple of thoughts from two of our bloggers about how they choose video games for their kids:

– “Yes, our boys have a Switch. They are allowed to play 1-2 hours every other day. It is all based upon whether or not they do well with their homeschooling and chores. Often times they don’t play as they are involved in various extracurricular activities and if given the choice prefer to play outdoors. Because the boys are so young (8, 10) we only allow them to play games rated “E” (for everyone). There have been a time or two that we’ve found some of the “E” games still not suitable for them because of some ungodly themes. Our 16-year-old doesn’t play video games.”

Carlie Kercheval, Today’s Frugal Family TM 

– “We don’t really have a set rule as much as guidelines based on individual situations. Overall we are more cautious about things with sexual content or bad language than violence. Raising four boys we simply aren’t too worried about a bit of blood but we don’t want sexual temptation to be an issue. We do however avoid any games that would be rated highly violent.”
Monica Swanson, The Grom Mom 

Another resource we love for reviews (especially for games and apps) is Common Sense Media. Check out their lists of best games for kids. 

Plugged In from Focus on the Family also reviews video games, and you can check out their latest reviews

Making Your Own Screen-Smart Family Plan

While there are so many different perspectives on gaming, we want to help you have the conversations with your family that will give you a plan. Here are some key questions to ask as you make your own Screen-Smart Family Plan:

  • What type of gaming console do we want? Something public, attached to a television? Or private, hand-held devices?
  • Do we want gaming to be primarily a shared experience, or are we ok with kids playing games by themselves?
  • How educational do we want games to be? Do we see them primarily as an educational tool or as entertainment? 
  • What rating level are we comfortable with?

Other posts in this series: