Duke of York's Royal Military School

Is Your Child Spending Too Much Time On Video Games?

All children enjoy playing video games; there are so many popular games out there these days. Whether it’s Minecraft, Fortnite or one of the many other games out there, it can be worrying to see your child spending so much time glued to a screen. But how much is too much - and is there really such a thing as being addicted to video games?

Apparently “Gaming disorder” is a real condition, classified as a disease in the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, set to be adopted in 2022.

If video gaming or a particular game has become the most important thing in your child’s life, dominating their thoughts, feelings and behaviour, there could be an issue. Other key signs there’s a problem are that they rely on gaming in order to stabilise their mood; they experience negative feelings when they are unable to play; the video game has become a source of tension within the home, and they feel they need to play more and more in order to experience the same feeling of satisfaction.

To be fully addicted to video gaming is rare in primary school aged children - but too much exposure at a young age could pave the way for problems later down the line.

Here are some tips for managing your child’s gaming:

  • Encourage other activities such as sports and being outdoors.  This will increase their serotonin levels, helping to improve mood and reduce problematic symptoms from video gaming.
  • Introduce strict boundaries on screen time - when video games can be played, and for how long. This may be hard to begin with, but if you stick to these boundaries your child will always know where they stand, and will be less inclined to try and increase usage. Some devices may have timers or parental controls which allow you to limit time.
  • When asking your child to leave their game, ensure you have another, engaging activity ready for them to begin. This could be dinner, a family outing or something they otherwise enjoy such as crafting.
  • Provide warnings before your child is required to leave their game so that they can finish what they are doing. If they are always asked to finish mid-game, this can be frustrating and lead to arguments. 
  • Ensure there is always a choice of other interesting activities available that do not involve screens. If necessary, get these out of cupboards and put them in obvious places
  • Talk to your child about the dangers of too much screen time. Be honest about your concerns and work with them to formulate a plan and agree limits.
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