Video games are probably the most demonized pastime this side of “witchcraft”. From turning our kids fat and ruining their social skills to melting their imaginations and planting violent thoughts in their heads, there’s nothing video games can’t ruin. But it turns out that this is just another hobby, with good and bad qualities, like everything else. And with good parenting, video games can be a very positive experience and even a family-bonding moment.

The key is to stop looking at games as something only children do that completely removes them from us and the rest of the world. Nowadays there’s an incredible variety in games, and there are many that were made to be enjoyed in a group. Obviously, it’s not necessary to share every single gaming moment with the kids, but when we stop being afraid of technology, we can use games to bring together all family members and bridge generation gaps.

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Consoles are the ideal platform to turn games from an isolating activity into a shared one. For example, the Wii is famous for its wide variety of “party games”. Wii Party, Wii Sports, Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, and other similar titles were made to be played with several people, enjoy some healthy competition and have a good laugh. It doesn’t matter if you are not great at it, your kids will probably love to be the experts at something and be the ones to teach you for once.

If your kids like to use the computer to play, there are also some great games to share a good moment with them, even if they are not strictly multiplayer. For example, Minecraft offers unlimited building possibilities and you can find that you and your kid can spend hours deciding on the best materials and most efficient design for an underwater cave, even if you never touch the keyboard yourself. Another good choice, especially for younger kids is Scribblenauts, where you will take turns trying to come up with the most original thing to “draw” in order to solve a puzzle. Who knew a giant flying gorilla could be used to get a kitty down from a tree? Handheld devices also offer some good titles to bond with kids. The Professor Layton series offers imaginative puzzles that will encourage kids to think outside the box, and you can even brainstorm answers with them.

Bottom line is, kids enjoy video games and they will appreciate it when you take an interest in their activities and choose to share some time with them. It creates another common topic for you to bond over and it will make you feel closer to each other.

The trick is to do your homework and investigate the games you buy. Don’t look at video games as a babysitter to get the kids out of the way for a few hours, look at them as an opportunity to create precious moments with your family.