Video games aren’t all bad. With advances in technology, children can learn and grow from the use of video game technology. However, with the exploding popularity of video games, it is also easy for kids to get addicted to games and spend too much time gaming.
Pros and Cons
There are many benefits for children who play video games. Many games make it fun for children to learn and practice skills. Look through the selection of video games and you can probably find options that will teach your children spelling, math, reading and even history. Some video games can even get your children to be more active, like the popular movement-based sports and dance games that are available.
Unfortunately, there are also some negative effects associated with video games. As children grow to love video games more and more, they can easily spend huge blocks of time gaming. Every hour spent gaming also takes away time from other activities that children need to develop, such as social and physical activities. Depending on the type of games they’re playing, children may also be exposing themselves to extreme violence or other negative behaviors in video games.
How Much is Too Much?
Spending too much time playing video games can really limit the time your child has to do other important things, like getting exercise, doing chores, completing homework and spending time with friends and family. The National Institute on The Media & Family advises that children should not spend more than one hour each day playing video games. If your child is currently spending more time on video games, you may want to limit their game time.
Selecting Age-Appropriate Games
Although most video games come with a rating about the appropriate age groups who should play them, there is no definite rule about which kids should play which games. Additionally, with the vast variety of games available, it can be very difficult to determine what’s right for your child. The best thing you can do is to be aware of the games your child is playing. You may want to try playing a game yourself to determine whether your child is ready to play that particular game. Many games can be rented at low prices so you can try out a game before purchasing it.
Guidelines for Gaming
You can use some simple guidelines to set limits on your child’s gaming. First, set a limit of approximately one hour of screen time each day when your child can play video or computer games. Reserve the right to try out a game before your child plays it so you can determine whether it’s appropriate for them. Use video games to reward your child in the way of extra screen time when they do something well, or take screen time away when they abuse their privileges or do something wrong. Set the gaming system your child uses up in a common area of your home so you can supervise your child’s gaming activities. Finally, make it clear that video games are one aspect of life, and encourage your child to be active in other activities.
If you implement the guidelines above and determine that your child is still spending too much time playing video games, you may want to speak to a medical professional. In most cases, following the guidelines above will help to reduce the time spent gaming, but if this is not successful, your child may need some professional help to give up the habit.
Staff, Kids and Video Games: Are You a Concerned Parent?, ABCNews.com, accessed July 8, 2013