Computers and Video Games

Computers and video games get a bad rap. Parents are told to limit the amount of time their children spend with them and to encourage kids to get out and do other things. But when those other things are difficult for or threatening to your child, and if they present a social difficulty, video and computer games can be very good things indeed.

You should still closely monitor your child's activity, and make sure that he is playing games that are appropriate to his age and developmental level. But this can be an area in which some children with sensory integration disorder can find social success that eludes them in more traditional childhood activities.

If your child can't hit a ball or run fast, but he knows all about the latest games and can play them with friends, he may be able to find his social niche there. At the least, it gives him something age-appropriate to do during play dates.

Pay attention to the rating system on games and watch your child as he plays. Some increase motor skills and coordination, and others are fun and provide an experience of success. Other games, though, even some with family friendly ratings, may be visually or auditorially overstimulating for your child. If a game spurs out of control behavior, pull the plug.

These games have another advantage: If your child enjoys them, they can be a powerful incentive to get her to do things she doesn't enjoy. Allow your child a Game Boy break for finishing a difficult homework task; allow video game minutes for dressing quickly in the morning; give computer time as a reward for eating neatly or making the bed.

You may also find that the games can be a fun activity for you and your child to do together. Let your child teach you how to play — she may enjoy that turn of the tables as much as she does the game.

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