Media & Pop Culture Book Review

A Parent’s Guide to Video Games

A Parent's Guide to Video GamesTitle: A Parent's Guide to Video Games
Author: Rachel Kowert
Publisher: Self-Published
First Published: November 28, 2016
Pages: 103
Genres: Non-Fiction, Technology
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★★


Over the last forty years, video games have transformed from a niche market to a multibillion-dollar industry. No longer limited to arcade parlors, video games are everywhere and are accessible at any time. Along with the popularization of video games has come a growing concern about their ability to transform those who play them into antisocial killing machines who are desensitized to violence, have no friends, and will forever live in their parents’ basements. But are these fears based in reality?

Over the last twenty years, psychologists, sociologists, and media scholars have been working hard to answer these questions. Until now, their findings have largely remained insulated within scientific circles and inaccessible to the general public. A Parent’s Guide to Video Games breaks the long-standing barriers between science and society by providing the first comprehensive guide to the science behind the headlines.

Drawing from the most recent research in the field of game studies, A Parent’s Guide to Video Games was developed specifically to help parents better understand if, how, and why video game play can impact a child’s physical, social, and psychological well-being. This includes addressing questions such as these:

Will playing violent video games make my child more aggressive and more likely to commit violent crime?

Is video game addiction real? If so, how do I know if my child is addicted to video games?

Will video game play worsen the symptoms of attention deficit disorder (ADD)?

Answers to these questions and many more are discussed inside. Armed with accurate and up-to-date scientific information, parents will begin to understand the science behind the headlines and be able to make more informed decisions for themselves and their families.

My Review:

A Parent’s Guide to Video Games provides a simple guide about video games and the countless studies surrounding gaming and its social and cultural influences. The book covers a number of controversial topics that are common concerns for parents unfamiliar with video games. Included are topics such as the effects that gaming has on health and social skills, educational advantages and disadvantages to gaming, violence, and sexism. Kowert approaches all of these topics, even the extremely difficult ones, with a professional and neutral tone. Kowert does a good job at making strong arguments for the positive aspects of video gameplay for children and adolescents while also acknowledging known problems and offering up solutions or ways to deal with such problems.

In typical textbook fashion, the chapter ends with a brief summary of the points covered. True to the title and aim of the book, the end of the chapters also included advice for parents which I appreciated. The book is also well cited and includes a chapter full of recommendations for those interested in doing further reading at the back of the book. Each of the topics, divided into chapters, are relatively short and usually consisted of three to five pages in length including the summary and advice sections. The author gets straight to the point and the book is easily digestible for the busy parent or gamer that maybe isn’t too big on reading.

What’s also notable about this book is its gorgeous graphic design which I found aesthetically pleasing. The start of each chapter has eye-catching and charming art in the same style as the front cover. Maybe in the future, the style will seem dated but right now the look and feel are very modern. The book is formatted very much like a textbook but is extremely readable and approachable.

Overall I think the book does a fairly good job at doing exactly what it set out to do: use research to tackle common concerns for parents about the negative effects of video games and explain the topics clearly while presenting a strong case for the positive aspects of gaming.

“You may be surprised how your children open up (about a range of things) when you show interest in what interests them.”

I’m a Filipino American blogger, historian, and lazy writer. I enjoy books, video games, anime/manga, and smoking hookah.


  • Jennifer

    I love this idea! It is definitely a topic that the bad parts of video games get shouted out. I’ve heard a few little tidbits of a positive thinking skills that are created from video game playing, but usually with niche pop science type of sites.

    Though some of the concepts of isolation/not getting out and socializing is clearly not just a video game issue anymore with smart phones. Which I feel like is my main concern with kids playing games.

    • Jamie

      I agree with you wholeheartedly on the issue of kids getting out and socializing. I’ve had that struggle with my daughter, now 10, who is utterly absorbed in YouTube culture and neglects going outside or reading to watch videos or play the video games she sees YouTubers playing. We’ve had to have talks about what content is appropriate for her to watch/play.

      Conversely, as someone that grew up playing video games and still actively plays them, I’ve been keenly interested in the positive and negative impacts that it’s had on me and other people. I was happy to find this book and to read some of the studies that have been compiled in recent years in a digestible format. Research into the effects of video games is still relatively new territory, and books on the subject can be a bit difficult to find.

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