Whether you like it or not, video games will be an indispensable part of our children’s lives. Many children love playing video games. However, just like all things, too much can be bad for them.
This is one of the many worries parents have: how to identify too much video games for kids? Also, how to avoid addiction to such virtual games?
In this article, we will help parents identify the “healthy” way to play video games, as well as tips to help their children achieve this. Make sure to read further!
Video games in the United States
It is no doubt that one of the largest countries in the world houses the greatest number of children playing video games, some of which play video games in moderation, while some are obsessed with it. Therefore, a lot of parents are worried because children can start neglecting their responsibilities to play video games, or stay up all night just to finish their games.
Other adverse effects of video games in children include poor social skills and they are starting to lie to their parents to cover up how much they are spending time on video games.
These are some indicators that tell your child is playing too much video games. Other signs include:
- Being irritable when not allowed to play
- Fatigue due to less sleep
- Social isolation: choosing to play rather than socialize with family and friends
- Loss of interest in school works and household chores
These indicators suggest a budding video game addiction. But there’s no need to panic—there are several ways to help keep your child’s video gaming at a healthy level.
Tips for a healthy playing time
According to Jenny Radesky, M.D, a developmental behavioral researcher pediatrician at Mott, “With appropriate boundaries and supervision, video games may be a fun way for some children to enjoy time with each other and for parents to connect with their kids. But prolonged gaming has the potential to interfere with other elements of a teen’s life, such as sleep, family and peer relationships and school performance.”
With that being said, here are several ways to achieve healthy levels of video games with your child:
Set boundaries – A Mott Poll found out that 54% of parents of daily gamers report that their children play video games three or more hours a day, compared to 13% of teens who do not play everyday. More parents say that their teen boy spends more time on video games compared to the parents of teen girls. The American Academy of Pediatrics highly recommends two hours or less of screen-based entertainment a day. This provides time to enjoy without negatively affecting behavior, homework and other responsibilities.
Monitor your child – It is crucial to watch what a child is playing. Few studies have shown that children who play video games are more likely to show unsafe behaviors such as holding a gun. Professionals suggest non-violent alternatives for children’s violent video games. For instance, Minecraft enhances a child’s creativity. This can be a great alternative to violent, survival games.
Provide warning – Warnings give them enough time to finish their games and communicate to their peers that they need to go. Provide warning 10 to 15 minutes before you turn off your child’s console or computer. It is not recommended to immediately switch off one’s game because it only fosters the child’s irritability and rebellious acts. Warnings also mean you are respecting your child’s time, and in turn, he/she will respect your orders too.
Offer positive reinforcement – Give rewards to your child when he/she does non-gaming activities. Rewards could be tangible, such as toys or even money. Intangible rewards such as praises and attention can be given as well. Practicing positive reinforcement for not playing can not only limit gaming time, but can improve your child’s relationship and perception of you, too.
Play together – Playing with your child gives you a chance to bond with him/her, and potentially open opportunities for fun interactions and conversations. You can also invite your child’s peers over. That way, your child can improve his/her socialization skills. Interaction over video game calls and chats can be difficult for other children to interpret and may encourage sharing of inappropriate remarks with each other.