Gaming: How much is too much for children?
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Gaming: How much is too much for children?

Gaming: How much is too much for children?

With many children spending a little too much time playing video games, learn to spot the signs things may be spinning out of control


Parents who didn’t grow up with digital technologies and on-demand gaming are sometimes prone to overreact about their children spending time glued to a screen. But there are legitimate concerns: about the people their kids might be talking to online; the impact on their sleep, mood and behaviour and even their physical health.

Signs of gaming addiction

Children may start to get immersed in the digital world to the point where they stop paying attention to things happening in real life such as –

  • Not paying attention to personal hygiene or eating
  • Avoiding face-to-face contact with their friends
  • They appear to be excessively tired
  • They have trouble getting to sleep
  • They lie about how much time they spend playing
  • Any attempt to restrict their screen time leads to major confrontation/outbursts of anger

How can you cut down children’s gaming time?
If you’re concerned about the amount of time your child spends on gaming, consider the following steps.

Communicate: Whatever happens, keep talking. Your kids need guidance, but they also need an open, non-judgmental arena in which to share their own concerns and feelings.

Build trust: Simply telling your kids what to do will only force negative behaviour underground. Be as open and empathetic as possible about the experiences your kids are going through as they grow up.

Work out limits together: Just as you should try to avoid dictating orders to your children, also resist the urge to confiscate their devices. Instead, sit down together to work out a plan for reducing screen time, perhaps by uninstalling gaming apps on specific devices. This may have to be done in stages. Work out a daily time limit for gaming or a cut-off time for use of the home wi-fi.

Plan digital breaks: Consider sitting down with your kids to plan short breaks away from their devices. It could be a trip away for a few hours, or even a weekend. Try and do something engaging that you’ll both enjoy and keep the encouragement levels high.

Consider a parental control app: Specialised software can block access to specific gaming apps and/or restrict their usage by time limits. If you’re concerned that your children aren’t keeping their side of the bargain, it might be a useful way to minimise harm. However, always explain why you’re using such tools.

Safety first: Aside from concerns around over-use of gaming sites, many parents are also worried about who their kids are interacting with online and the type of content they’re exposed to. Parental control apps can manage the second concern. But parents should also be prepared to sit down with their kids to ensure they know about the possible dangers facing them in the digital world.

Parents can sometimes forget how stressful it was growing up. In that context, gaming can be a wonderful respite from all the drama and emotion, while also helping kids to develop some under-rated skills such as hand-eye coordination and problem solving. But it’s also important to keep them safe and healthy – by stepping in as soon as possible if things begin to get out of hand.

Phil Muncaster is the guest writer at Eset

Read: DMCC announces launch of its gaming centre

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