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My son, age 15, and his friends like to play these role playing games such as Magic the Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons (also called D&D). I came across some information, mostly fundamentalist writing, against these types of games. Since you do a column on games and toys for children, do you have any information on the use or misuse of role play/fantasy games by older children and teenagers? Should parents be on the alert for this material? How can parents help their teens to deal with their indulgence in fantasy games?


Sally Goldberg Replied: Listen and communicate is the best advice. By a combination of listening about 70% of the time and talking about 30% of the time, you can get as much information as possible about how the teens actually play the game. You will learn what they say and do as part of their fantasy participation. Helpful tools are phrases like "Tell me more about..., oh, I see," and open ended questions like "How do you do that?" Getting to understand the situation fully is necessary and beneficial before taking any kind of action. Once you have a handle on what is really happening, you will be ready to take the next step. You might think the way they are playing is fine and not do anything. You might decide to make certain suggestions for eliminating or changing some parts of the play. You might want to request that they discontinue play altogether and use their creativity in other specific ways that you suggest. The important point now is that you are in a position to make a truly informed decision. In addition, no matter how you handle the situation, be sure to explain how and why your suggestions are in their best interest. This is advice based on Pillar #7 "Listen and Communicate" described in the book Constructive Parenting.
Posted On 2004-08-30 15:22:03
Stevanne Auerbach Replied: Kids are always looking for new ways to learn and socialize. These role playing games help to enlarge their world of imagination and if kept in balance a good way to learn and play at the same time. Role playing games beat the monotony of endless video games and TV. But, getting enough exercise out of doors is a better choice all the way around. Finding a balance is the key to these activities.
Posted On 2004-08-30 15:08:16
Rhonda Clements Replied: I think the key word is "over indulgence." Fantasy games offer young children a chance to play out their fears and imagination. The liking for Fantasy games for older children (12 years and older) can still linger in the form of computer games, pinball games, and the like. The desire for these games is very common even among teens. However, your son should also be exposed to physical sports and activities that help to keep him physically fit. Try expanding his interest in one or two of these areas for increased fitness reasons, as well as supporting his interest in fantasy play. Who knows, his interest may foster a love for movie making and action films.
Posted On 2004-08-30 15:07:12
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