Many parents who are gamers wonder if it’s okay for their baby to watch them play video games. There are differing opinions on this, and research on the effects of screen time on babies is still emerging.
Ultimately, it comes down to each parent’s comfort level and finding a balance between gaming and quality time with baby. Here are some things for gaming parents to consider when deciding if baby can watch them play.
Potential Benefits of Letting Baby Watch
There are some potential benefits to letting your baby watch you play age-appropriate video games in moderation:
Having baby nearby while you game allows them to feel close to you. As long as you interact with them frequently, it can be a special bonding time.
Exposure to Technology
Getting comfortable seeing technology/screens from an early age can set them up for educational benefits down the road.
Watching the action on screen engages their eyes and brain and could help develop visual tracking skills. Bright colors and sounds may also be stimulating.
Learning Through Observation
Babies absorb so much information through observing others. Watching gaming strategy could build early cognitive skills.
Potential Downsides of Letting Baby Watch
However, there are also some potential downsides to consider:
Lack of Interaction
Passive screen time doesn’t provide the back-and-forth interaction critical for development. This is especially important in the first 12-18 months.
The flashing lights, loud noises, and quick scene changes could overstimulate baby’s developing senses. Too much can negatively impact sleep and behavior.
Exposure to Inappropriate Content
Even with age-appropriate games, baby could incidentally be exposed to violence, scary imagery, coarse language, etc. Their comprehension is limited but exposure still occurs.
Screen Time Recommendations
Expert guidelines recommend very limited or zero screen time for children under 18-24 months old. Too much screen time early on is linked to language and cognitive delays.
Reduced Physical Activity
Excess sedentary screen time reduces opportunities for crawling, moving, and active play important to baby meeting physical milestones.
Too much passive screen watching could make it harder for babies to learn to play independently and manage their own stimulation levels.
Tips for Gaming with Baby Around
If you choose to let your baby watch you play video games sometimes, here are tips to make it a positive experience:
Limit Gaming Session Length
Aim for short 5-10 minute gaming intervals with baby around, and build in off-screen time in between. This prevents overstimulation or zoning out.
Avoid Inappropriate Games
Stick to age-appropriate, educational games with limited violence, no coarse language, etc. Avoid games labelled for mature audiences.
Frequently narrate what you’re doing in the game and ask baby questions to boost engagement and learning.
Step away regularly to actively play with baby, read books, etc. Let them sit on your lap and show them the controller.
Set a Good Example
Be mindful of limiting your own screen time and modeling active play for baby. Don’t let gaming replace parent-child playtime.
Follow Age Guidelines
Consult pediatric recommendations and observe baby’s signals. If they seem bothered or overstimulated, reduce or cease screen time.
The Bottom Line
Allowing baby to watch appropriate, interactive video game play in moderation while adhering to expert screen time guidelines can be fine. But gaming should never replace parent-child play, stimulation, and conversation vital to development.
Checking in frequently and limiting passive watching is key. As with all things, finding balance is ideal. Stay tuned as more research on baby gaming emerges!