In this virtual age, video games have become a staple for many. In the same way some kids get lost in a book, other kids get lost in video games. It’s completely normal for kids to like to play video games. It’s also completely normal for parents to worry about how much their children play the games. The cathartic nature of video games makes it easy to lose hours or days within their virtual worlds. Though there is no “right” amount for your children to play video games, but there are signs that show they might be playing too much.
Video games inevitably affect the psyche of anyone who plays, especially younger kids. Studies have shown that kids who spend too much time glued to video games are quicker to become angry and aggressive, lose their ability to empathize, and create more conflict both at home and school. Extended video game use has also been closely linked to obesity trends.
There will always be arguments for and against gaming. Spending a moderate time of playing is fine. Even if you’d rather your child spends time doing other activities, there’s no point in forbidding video games. Instead just commit to carefully monitoring what games he plays and how often he plays. As long as other areas of his life aren’t suffering, you don’t need to worry. If you can’t always be there to monitor how much he plays and what games he plays, then enact a rule that he’s only allowed to play when you’re home and place parent locks on your devices.
It’s hard to say for sure when you need to start intervening, but there are some surefire signs that there is a problem. If you find that your child spends 20 hours or more in front of the TV, it might be time to intervene; that would be a part-time job to spend 20 hours a week gaming. If he’s losing real life friends or has more online friends than he does school friends or if he’s sacrificing other important activities, like sleeping or eating, so he can play, there could be a problem. Remember that video game consoles aren’t the only access to games anymore either. Computers, tablet devices, and smartphones now all have gaming capabilities so your child has the chance to constantly play, whether it’s Angry Birds or Zombie Games 365. If you find that he leaves one gaming form and goes straight to another, you may need to limit his access to all electronic devices.
If you’re concerned your child spends too much gaming, have a conversation with him about it. Talk to him about your concerns and make sure he’s aware of the different implications that can come from gaming too much. On top of the risks mentioned above, his overall health is at risk if he spends too much time playing video games. Hand and wrist injuries can develop which will affect him for the rest of his life. Gaming too much can be a sign of emotional trouble since gaming is a place for your child to escape so openly discussing this with him can help him overcome the issue.
No one knows your children like you do. If you’re uncomfortable with how much time your kids spend in front of the tube, follow your instincts and make a change.