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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Video games: A way to connect

According to a Pew Internet study, 99% of boys and 94% of girls play video games.

Another study, this time by the Kaiser Family Foundation, states that the average time spent gaming by kids ages 8-18 is 1 hour and 13 minutes – every day!

Whether your child is already a dedicated gamer racking up the points on Guitar Hero or someone who just likes to play with your iPhone now and again, then video gaming is likely to be part of his or her life for many years to come.

A lot of parents struggle with this concept. Although most moms look forward to shared TV, movie and book time as an opportunity to bond with their kids, video games are a different matter. If you didn't grow up with video games, it's easy to be intimidated by them. And, if you're like most moms, it's hard to find the time to become a competent player.

So what happens? Either the parent overreacts and bans video games altogether, or she walks away, leaving her child to explore the uncertain world of video gaming alone. (Losing another ten hours a week of bonding time along the way!)

It doesn't have to be that way.

In the last 5 years, video gaming have become very much a family affair, with opportunities for people of all ages to get involved and have a good time. Many of the games on the market today are specifically developed for families, and sports titles and motion controllers get you up off the couch and jumping around.

So, if you have a tween or young child who's starting to show an interest in video games, don't fight it. Take the time to learn the basics, so you can share in the experience – and help keep them safe!

To get started, check out some of our links on the left side of the page under Video Gaming. Be sure to read the sections on Genres and ESRB Ratings.

Even if you are never going to beat your child at Wii Tennis or top his score at Karaoke, you will pick up a huge number of "cool" points for trying and you will almost certainly have a great time doing it!

What are your favorite games to play with your kids? Do you have recommendations for getting involved? Share your thoughts with The Online Mom!  

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