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Children And Gaming: Here’s What you Need to Know as a Parent

If your child loves gaming, you might have a couple of questions – or even concerns – about their gaming habits. Is it okay for kids to play games? If so, how long should kids play games on any given day or week? What are the advantages and drawbacks?

Is It Okay For Kids To Play Games?

The short answer is “yes,” but moderation is vital.

Believe it or not, there are advantages to video games for kids. One study that looked at a group of 2,442 children aged 7-11 showed that playing video games for one hour a week was associated with better motor skills and higher achievement in school. However, it’s important to note that no additional advantages were found when the amount of play was extended to two hours per day. Other potential advantages include a boost in mood and a positive distraction when coping with nerves. That said, research shows a number of disadvantages for kids who play too much, including but not limited to social isolation and lower performance in school. Gaming can be a form of escape, especially for those prone to depression, and research shows that those with ADHD are at a higher risk for gaming addiction.

With all that in mind, appropriate game usage for kids should:

  • Ensure that the games played are suitable for their age group.
  • Be limited, ranging from about 1-9 hours per week.

It’s not all or nothing. Think of it this way: Running is great, but every runner knows that overdoing it can have consequences. As with so many other things in life, at the end of the day, moderation is key when it comes to gaming.

How Do I Moderate My Child’s Gaming?

Here are some tips for moderating gameplay for kids:

  • Be consistent with the rules you enforce. If you set a limit, stick to what you say. Otherwise, they’ll learn that they can push the boundary and win. Keep the tone of your voice calm when you enforce the rules. Remember that, for both adults and kids who game excessively, it’s often adaptive in some way. Gaming can provide relief from social isolation and other mental health-related symptoms. Be patient, compassionate, and firm.
  • Gently guide them toward other activities. Rather than just saying “no,” say, “it’s time to do (insert activity here).” If they push back, repeat that it is time to engage in that specific task. This could be helping you make dinner, homework, going to the store, or something else. If kids are bored, of course they’ll want to play games. You need to give them something to do. Even if they still ask to play, it’s more likely that they’ll get past it sooner if they understand that it’s time to engage in another specific task.
  • Give them a heads up. Make sure to tell them how long they can play before game time starts, and give them a heads up that game time is about to end beforehand. An example would be saying, “fifteen minutes until it’s time to come in the kitchen” and repeating “five minutes” after another ten minutes have passed.

If it works best for your child, you might limit video games to specific days or times. For example, weekends only or Fridays only. You know your child best. If your child shows signs of distress or dependency, a therapist who works with their age group can help.

Support For Parents

If your child is struggling, it’s essential to be kind toward yourself and take care of your own mental health as well. Whether you’re facing concerns related to gaming, parenting, or something else that’s going on in your life, seeing a therapist or counselor may be advantageous. There are many different ways to find a therapist. You can search the web, ask your doctor for a referral, sign up for a reputable online therapy platform, or contact your insurance company to see who they cover. If you’re a parent-to-be, parenting classes may also be helpful in putting you at ease about what’s to come: Either way, you deserve support and confidence as a parent, and opening up about what’s on your mind can help.

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