Growing up, most kids want a video game system at some point. Video games could be a great form of entertainment and even a means for families to bond. Many games enhance thinking skills as well as strategic skills and hand-eye coordination. There are educational video games, but as with most things, the amount of time spent playing in must be carefully monitored.
Parents must be mindful of their kids’ screen time, whether it is in watching television, being on social media, or playing games. It is true that a child needs some playtime, but remember that their playtime must not be limited to playing video games. If your child shows a strong interest in video games, parents must double their efforts in keeping track of the kids’ gaming habits.
When Does A Hobby Become An Addiction?
Finding something you truly enjoy is a great thing. There are, however, instances where a hobby starts becoming an obsession, even an addiction. It all starts as a way to pass the time or take a break from school. Then, it somehow turns into an addiction. This is becoming a great concern for parents. One of the most common examples is video game addiction.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) believes there is still insufficient evidence to qualify video game addiction as a mental disorder. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has included compulsive video game playing to its list of mental health conditions; it is termed as “gaming disorder.” Video games, by design, are meant to hook players into spending as much time as possible in the game. Hence, even if its status as a mental health disorder is still under dispute, it would still be best to curb the time spent playing them.
It is probably time to intervene when your child shows these signs and symptoms:
- Thinks about gaming all the time.
- Needs to play video games to feel good; feels bad and irritable when unable to play.
- Unable to control the time spent playing.
- Neglects school work, house chores, and even other hobbies that they used to love doing.
- Resorts to lying in order to spend more time playing.
- Uses gaming to escape real-life problems and situations.
Kids may not actually recognize such signs and symptoms. In fact, they may perceive it as normal since a lot of kids their age are into gaming. It then falls on you, the parent, guardian, or as a person concerned with the child, to recognize the signs and do something about it before any of the following bad and harmful effects affect the kids.
- Good grades and overall great academic performance become a thing of the past.
- Health problems due to a lack of sleep and/or physical activities.
- They will not be able to properly develop their social skills and will isolate themselves even from family members.
- Developing obsessive behavior towards gaming causing irritability and even depression once unable to play.
Break Your Child’s Video Game Addiction – Here’s How
Excessive time playing video games would eventually lead to the aforementioned problems. Before things get any worse, here are some ways that could help you break a child’s video game addiction once and for all.
Educate Your Child
The first step is to talk to your child. Tell them that video games are meant to be just that, games. It should be a form of entertainment or a hobby, not an obsession. It’s crucial to educate the children on the negative effects of excessive video game time and to make them understand that there are so much more rewarding things than those achieved in the virtual world.
You must set specific rules such as a time limit or a specific time when they are allowed to play video games. It would help to put their video game system somewhere you can see it; discourage keeping the games in their room. You could also install monitoring apps on their devices or using gaming parental controls. Be strict and firm about implementing the rules and if you also happen to play video games, then lead by example.
If there are rules, then there must be consequences. Make sure to discuss such consequences at the same time you discuss the rules. You could perhaps take away game time for a day if your child violates the specified game time.
You may also opt to impose some positive reinforcement. Let’s say your child has managed to pull their grades up which were affected by their excessive gaming; you can reward them by giving an extra hour of game time. Be sure to think through your reward system.
Establish Routines; Initiate Other Activities
It is best if the whole family and even your child’s closest friends are involved. Think of other fun activities that you could do together like a ball game, hiking, or fishing – any activity that would have your child outdoors or let them realize that there is so much more he could enjoy doing.
In extreme cases, consult a pediatrician or even a child psychiatrist. Remember, it’s best to intervene as early as possible.
The time your child spends gaming or doing other tech-based activities must always be carefully monitored. Also, when looking for games, check the ESRB rating to ensure it is age-appropriate.