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Video games for mental health: winding down at night

While most children will relish a fast paced, exciting shooting or racing game, it’s important to recognise that there are times when Mario Kart or Fortnite are not quite the right vibe. Winding down at night to enable a good night’s sleep is a key part of creating strong, resilient young people, but so many young people go to sleep with electronic devices plugged in nearby, silently willing them to wake up and just have a quick scroll or play.

There are, in fact, many video games that support the ‘winding down’ phase of the evening. These games can help to calm the brain and ease anxiety and can easily become part of a bedtime routine – even something to look forward to at the end the day.

Moshi Sleep and Mindfulness (Pegi 3+) is a game that embodies the best bits of a bedtime story. Children can select stories, sounds, meditation or music and calm colours to help them drift off to sleep quickly. Once started the stories and sounds play with the screen off, so can be an aid to falling asleep.

Meanwhile, the delights of Everything (Pegi 3+) are all about ‘becoming’ - becoming almost any object in the game, to explore a little mindfulness or challenge your assumptions about what is important in life. It sounds a bit deep but in fact is a charming game that rolls along at its own pace (quite literally – if you leave the game idle it will slowly play through scenes and inhabit objects on its own, making it ideal for new or young players).

Monument Valley (Pegi 3+) is a puzzle maze game in which yu aim to guide your character through a variety of ever changin mazes. Andy Robertson, of Taming Gaming, says its ‘striking, calm visual theme is used to build atmosphere and slowly reveal a moving story about parenting, independence, getting lost and the bittersweet inevitability of children growing up.’

You can discover many more ‘winding down’ games for both children and adults at the Family Video Games database, which has a wide variety of interesting game lists focused around mental health – from loneliness to grief – that may be of use to families hoping to bring some structure and direction around gaming habits.

Sarah Smith

Foundation Speaker

1 Comment

Dec 01, 2023

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