Yesterday, NewTechKids hosted its ‘Kids and Gaming’ seminar for parents, caregivers and teachers in Amsterdam. Attendees came together to explore the topic and stretch their thinking by hearing from professionals including game designers and parents as well as a psychologist, family counsellor, teacher and former gaming addict.

Here are the key takeaways in terms of tips and advice:

Deborah Carter, NewTechKids

Deborah’s main message was that gaming shouldn’t be viewed in the context of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ because this type of thinking is too limited. Gaming offers kids a lot of cognitive and social benefits but must be managed to avoid harmful behaviours and consequences. Gaming’s effects are dependent on the individual child, games being played, gaming conditions and the involvement and guidance of parents and other adults. She advised parents to research the different gaming genres to determine which games are beneficial and of interest to their children. She advised parents to view gaming as a 21st century skill which helps kids become familiar with technology, navigate virtual worlds and understand the gamification all around them in products, services and experiences.

Leonie Kamps, Psychologist, Trimbos Institute

The Trimbos Institute is a Dutch research organization which focuses on mental health and addiction. The Institute manages two important resources related to gaming: the Website www.gameninfo.nl and Gamen Infolijn, a 24/7 hotline which parents and teachers can call to discuss problematic gaming and gaming addiction.

Leonie explained how the Institute breaks gamers into three categories according to hours spent gaming:

  1. Non-gamers or Infrequent gamers: 3 hours or less per week
  2. Hobby gamers: 14 hours or less per week
  3. Problem gamers: 23 hours or more per week

Boys in the Netherlands are at a much higher risk than girls of becoming problem gamers. The relative amount of boys who are problem gamers is relatively small: 7% of all boys who game. Nonetheless, parents should monitor hours of gaming closely.

Emiel Kampen, Game Designer, Prrr.pl

Emiel provided attendees with a crash course on how games are designed. He advised parents to try to understand the main games their kids play and their child’s player profile (explorers, destroyers, achievers and socializers) which provides insight into why specific games appeal to them.

Jaïn van Nigtevegt and Antonio Hoogervorst, Flavour

Jain and Antonio explained the game mechanics of HackShield, the award-winning (and free) game they designed for kids and parents to learn about cybersecurity. They advised parents, caregivers and teachers to actively seek out learning games with a focus on what they call “hero-based design”.

Bram Stamkot, NewTechKids

Bram provided an overview of how much the gaming industry is expected to generate in 2019 (US$150 billion) which is an almost 10% increase in annual revenue, according to Newszoo. He also outlined how the gaming industry’s business model has evolved from physical games and consoles to downloadable content, licences, microtransactions and loot boxes, which are being banned in countries such as Belgium because of their link to gambling. He discussed the latest evolution: cloud computing gaming services which rely on data collection and analytics and will enable technology companies to collect and mine user data.

Victor van Rossum, former gaming addict and coach

Victor shared the reasons why he became a gaming addict: his parents’ divorce, bullying at school and the fellowship and support he received from fellow gamers. Gaming was something he was good at and he was respected within the gaming community. He advised attendees to bond with their kids and maintain open, honest dialogue.

Rudi Voet, Family Counsellor, Yes We Can Youth Clinics

Rudi cautioned attendees that gaming addiction is usually a manifestation of a bigger trauma and advised attendees to closely examine family patterns and a child’s interaction with parents and siblings. He recommended that parents set clear boundaries and enforceable rules around gaming and monitor their child’s school grades, social and extra-curricular activities and participation in family activities.

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