Rebecca: I am back with Alok Kunojia of Healthy Gamer. Kruti stepped out to go take care of her family. So, we’re going to just finish this last segment. So, we’re talking about Fun Friday, that’s our theme. But I wanted to just really talk about this idea, especially parents are identifying there’s a problem. Identifying that something is difficult, remember that we’re talking about healing relationships here. So, when we are only focused on that, “Oh, you’re on the computer again. Why are you doing this again?” It’s not fun! It’s not fun for us, it’s not fun for them. So I wanted to talk about bringing the fun back into relationship how can parents do that with or without technology.
Dr. K: So, I think the simplest thing is to play video games with your kid. I think one of the best experiences is for a child is to be genuinely interested in what they’re doing. Not just support them, it’s not just about taking your kid to soccer practice, dropping them off and picking them up. It’s actually watching them play and cheering or kicking around the soccer ball with them. And I think it’s a great way to repair your relationship and have fun doing it by actually playing video games with them. And there’s a really subtle thing that happens there is signaling to them that games aren’t the problem, but that their isolation that is the problem.
So, there are some games like one example is there’s a game that we play a lot in my family called Over Cook and it’s a game I play with my mom. Because it’s like a cooking game and you have to cooperate with other people and you have to just cook dishes and serve them. Games nowadays are designed to be accessible. And so, I think that it’s great way to have fun with them. And then also enter their world a little bit and at the same time pull them out of their version of the world. When they’re playing with you, they’re not playing with their friends, but they’re still playing but they’re with you. You can show them that, “Hey, you don’t have to be playing that particular game with your friends. This is actually something that we can do together as a family that’s fun for all of us.”
And what we see is that games in the virtual world becomes so separate from the real world, right, that they’re over there on their computer and we’re over here, where your family and that these are two separate things. Right? Sometimes you essentially are choosing between the two great play games with your kids, you know you’re not blending those worlds a little bit. You’re showing them that you can have fun with mom and dad. It’s not just like mom and dad means that you can’t play your game. We’re going to play a different game.
Rebecca: Right, right and I think that that’s key because I also have the voice of many parents in my head as I’m listening to you and I have this one voice in my head but I can’t stand fill in the blank the name of the game that my child likes the most, so finding a game that works for both of you.
Dr. K: Yeah, the other thing that I would really question is have they actually tried to play it? So tolerating a game as an observer is very different and there’s some games that are kind of like party games or things like that you to play with your child. The other thing that you can ask your kid to do is teach you how to play the game that they’re playing and really try to learn. And this is where instead of you learning on your own you make it your child’s responsibility to teach you how to play. And if you struggle with it like don’t fix that problem for them let them fix a problem. Say, “Hey, I’m not having fun playing this game. What should we do? Either you teach me how to play it or find me something else.” Give them an agency. And give them responsibilities. Let them entertain you.
Rebecca: Love it, love it. Yeah, I really appreciate that response because you know there’s again there’s so much tension around this that if we can find the fun, if we can find the connection, if we can find the understanding, if we can put ourselves in our child’s shoes and see that game through their eyes, we’re going to see new things about our child, too.
Dr K: Absolutely and I take it one step further. I’d say the other thing you’ve got to do is let your child getting your shoes right when they’re teaching you how to play a game. They’re the expert, I mean or the child. And let them teach you, you know like learn like because we do that with other things right when a child is playing play-dough, we follow their lead if they want to build something, we help support it. They take the lead with gaming let them take the lead let them teach you and if you don’t like the game, share that with them, but that’s not a problem for you. That’s a problem for them. What is something that we can play together that I’m going to enjoy, too. I can’t play this game, it’s just it’s too violent.
Rebecca: Like Minecraft, oh gosh, I can’t. I’m sick of getting dizzy from trying to follow you through all these tunnels. Yeah, so I just want to bring in that piece of authenticity, that that it’s important if it’s not working for you that you communicate that, just like you want them to communicate that to you, too.
Dr. K: Absolutely and that’s a great point because what you’re doing in that moment is modeling for them. You’re modeling for them that it’s okay for you to communicate if something is not working for you and you’re giving them voice and you’re demonstrating to them. You’re also demonstrating to them that you’re not perfect and that it’s okay to be flawed, it’s okay to not enjoy things. You’re also demonstrating to them that, okay, even though I don’t enjoy this, I’m asking for your help and I’m going to try. I’m going to really try to learn how to play and give it my all and just because I’m not going to make a snap judgment and step away within five minutes, which is a lot of times, what they do when you make suggestions. You have to drag them kicking and screaming.
Rebecca: Right basketball, basketball.
Dr. K: Absolutely right and so I think it’s a great opportunity for you to lead by example and model and be authentic and also like if you want to talk about having some fun, have a little bit of role reversal. Let them be the teacher for once.
Rebecca: Thank you so much! I have so enjoyed this conversation with you and there’s just been so much valuable information for me as a parent and then also I know for the parents that I work with that are part of my community. The information is really invaluable. There’s so much fear around gaming and technology and I really appreciate you helping us to understand another way of looking at what we’re seeing, another way of understanding our child more deeply, another way of helping our child understand themselves more deeply and then finding ways to translate those skills that they’re gaining into the real world.
Dr. K: Absolutely Rebecca, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. It’s been fun for me, too. I think you know I’m trying to spread this message that gaming isn’t evil and that it’s not about punishment or abstinence or taking it away. It’s really about building a therapeutic alliance with your kid. And so far, I’ve tried to teach my child how to play Mario Kart. I have a four-year-old, but she just doesn’t like it so.
Rebecca: Maybe you need to get a different game.
Dr. K: Maybe I do instead what I’ve managed to do over the last three months is learn how to paint nails, which is the direction she wants to go.
Rebecca: I love it! Thank you so much for the work that you’re doing in the world. It’s so important. I just really want to honor that and express my gratitude on behalf of all of the gamers and the gamers parents all over the world who need this. So, thank you so much.
Dr. K: You’re most welcome and thank you as well because I think we’re living in a world where people are talking about doing the right thing, you know there’s right and wrong now eating a certain way not eating a certain way. Buying certain products, doing this, stop gaming, not gaming and I really think it’s awesome what you’re doing, which is that you’re telling people to be conscious. Right? Focus on the fundamentals and there isn’t a formula for success, it’s just focus on building a relationship with your child and that’s really the most important thing.
Rebecca: That’s right, that’s right.
Dr. K: And so, thank you for the work that you do.
Rebecca: Thank you thank you, thank you. All right, thank you so much for your time.
Dr. K: Okay perfect thank you very much Rebecca.
Rebecca: Have a nice day.
You’ve been listening to the All Relationships Can Heal podcast and I’m Rebecca Thompson Hitt. If you’d like to learn more about Healthy Gamer, please visit https://www.healthygamer.gg
If you’d like to connect with other parents who are consciously exploring these issues with their older kids with a focus on the relationship, check out consciouslyparenting.com and our Consciously Parenting Pre-teens and Teens course.