As a parent, you might be concerned about your child’s relationship with technology. This makes sense, as you yourself didn’t grow up in an age of smartphones, tablets, or metaverses. So, when your child is spending a lot of time on their PC or phone, it's only natural to start peering over their shoulder to see what they’re up to.
While all children should have screen time limits, you certainly shouldn’t remove all tech from your child's life. Technology like gaming consoles, PCs, and tablets can actually be used as a destresser for children. Children of all ages can use emerging tech to learn new skills, socialize with their friends, and unwind after a stressful day.
Anxiety in Children
Just like adults, children can suffer from anxiety. Just over 7% of children between 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with anxiety. These children may experience significant disruption to the way they learn, socialize, and develop, as anxiety acts as a kind of mental block that may overwhelm them emotionally and cognitively.
If you notice that your child is easily knocked off course due to their fears and stressors, it may be worth pursuing a diagnosis and seeking treatment. Common treatments currently involve cognitive behavior therapy and medication. Ideally, these treatment options allow children to work through their anxiety and allow them to think clearly in a safe space.
There is also a new tech-driven treatment that is gaining traction in childhood anxiety treatment: attention bias modification (ABM). ABM methods are varied, but most treatments use a series of stimuli that are presented on computers and aim to change the user’s reaction to stressors. While more research is needed, initial findings point towards ABM being a useful, tech-driven solution to childhood stress and anxiety.
Gaming and Stress
Even if your child doesn’t suffer from anxiety, chances are that they will benefit from playing video games with their friends. Games give children a wonderful opportunity to engage with one another from the safety and comfort of their own homes. Children and teens who play competitive multiplayer games like Rocket League can connect with their friends while playing, and increase their sense of self-efficacy by improving their skills as a gamer.
Single-player games can also help your children deal with stress. Research into young adults shows that casual gaming can reduce stress and promote self-efficacy. However, you’ll want to choose the right game for your child, as overly complex or competitive games may end up stressing your child out even more. Here are a few relaxing titles to consider:
Flower: You play as a petal on the wind. Your goal is to flow with the wind and accumulate more flowers.
Journey: Players adventure through desert-like landscapes and solve puzzles to progress. Journey can host online multiplayer, though you can’t talk to or combat other players.
Arise: A Simple Story: You begin with a Viking-like burial, then retrace the steps of a life spent in love. Arise also presents a series of logic puzzles that can help boost critical thinking.
The Lego Franchise: Lego games put a child-like spin on blockbuster titles like Star Wars and Batman. They do require a little combat and some puzzle-solving but are humorous and child-appropriate throughout.
Games have massive potential to help us all deal with stress and develop greater resilience. Try playing through one of the above titles with your child if you notice they’re a little stressed and could use a distraction from the real world. Playing together can lead to bonding experiences and give them a safe space to develop skills.
Skill Development and Destressing
Modern tech is great for entertainment, but it can also be used to develop skills and spark passions in children. Games like Agents of Influence teach children transferable skills like communication and critical thinking. Tablets and PCs can also be used to help children gain access to expert instructors and educational programs.
If you’re looking to help your child develop digital skills while destressing, consider coding. Coding is an umbrella term that encompasses all forms of computer programming. It’s almost like learning a second language and requires children to engage with problem-solving and computational thinking. This might sound stressful, but getting an early introduction to coding can help children feel in control of their future, and gives them a valuable skill for life.
If your child isn’t enthusiastic about coding, you might consider more creative outlets like a graphic design course. Graphic design classes can be completed remotely and teach children skills that are both creative and practical. You may want to invest in a drawing tablet, though it’s certainly not necessary to get started. Like coding, graphic design gives children skills that are sure to be in high demand for years to come, while allowing them to express themselves in creative ways.
Technology like video game consoles and tablets are an integral part of our lives. Some parents mistakenly see this as a bad thing. But, in reality, we have lots to be thankful for when it comes to tech. Modern tech can help children develop into confident, highly skilled citizens, and games can provide you with a great opportunity to bond with your kids and help them destress.