Is My Child Playing Video Games Too Much?
Parents frequently ask us this question. How much time should I allow my child or teen to play video games?
There are countless articles, blogs, books, etc. published about how video games can be addictive and how they decrease brain cells, etc. It’s not that we doubt the statistics, but there are also some benefits to video games.
Children are learning problem-solving skills while they are “just playing video games”. Minecraft, for instance, requires a great deal of planning and strategy. League of Legends requires teamwork, executive functioning, planning, and even the importance of commitment. Did you know that if a player exits a game before it is completed, leaving his teammates without a player, that person is banned for a certain period of time? Video game playing can also boost kids’ social self confidence. Many kids who can’t relate well to other kids on the playground may be experts when they play video games (sometimes with the same kids who may ignore them at school). Despite the benefits of video games, the general rule still applies: too much of a good thing isn’t good.
How to Know if Your Child or Teen is Playing Too Much
While parents want a number of minutes (or hours) that would be appropriate for kids to play each day, there is a simple answer that has nothing to do with the quantitative length of time they are in front of the dreaded screen.
4 Questions to Ask Yourself
1) Is it interfering with academics? If your child is performing where he should be performing, turning in homework, and not missing assignments, then allowing your child to be a kid and enjoy his free time, is fine.
2) Is it interfering with sleep? If she is up into late night hours or wakes up early to play video games and/or can’t seem to fall asleep after playing, it may be time to make some rules about video game play.
3) Is it interfering with socialization? Does your child or teen still want to be with her peers? Can he relate to peers? Can he engage in conversations and not NEED to have his video game time after a short period of interaction? Then, video games may be an appropriate and even needed reprieve.
4) Is it interfering with family time? Does your child engage with the family at family functions, dinner conversation, outings? Can she pull away from the screen to engage? Then, not to worry.
Kids still need to be kids.