Too much time playing video games? Handbook for parents

    Too much time playing video games? Handbook for parents
    Too much time playing video games? Handbook for parents

    Video games are a fun pastime and lead to various benefits: they can be educational, give room for creativity and allow interactions with peers.

    At the same time, these same positive aspects can become counterproductive, as they give video games a great attraction, with the risk that children struggle to turn off electronic devices and require more and more time from parents because they do not want to interrupt the game.

    In any area of ​​life, excessive behaviors are a warning sign for parents. However, for these increasingly advanced technologies, it is difficult to distinguish enthusiasm from excess. Is an hour a day okay? Is two too many? When is the time spent playing video games exceeding a reasonable limit?

    One possible approach is to look at what other families are doing.

    Are these exaggerated times that should alarm parents?

    According to Andy Phippen, professor of Social Responsibility at the University of Plymouth, spending too much time in front of a computer or a video game console, for example 4 hours without breaks, is certainly something harmful to the body. Apart from the "extreme" behaviours, however, it is difficult to establish criteria that are valid in all situations and there are various parameters that need to be considered. For example, it is important to evaluate whether the subject plays for several hours every day, or only during the weekend, if he completes his homework correctly and carries out other activities, and obviously the age of the child/adolescent.

    According to psychologist Tanya Byron, there are some red flags that all parents should keep in mind. Playing every day, spending a lot of time in front of the screen, sacrificing other fun activities, forgetting to do homework and often arguing with parents because you don't want to stop playing are some of the signs. If such characteristics are present, it is best to start worrying and start taking action.

    So, what are some useful tips to keep in mind regarding the use of video games by our children and how is it possible, when necessary, to limit the time spent playing video games?

    Here are some helpful hints in this regard:

    • Tell your child that there is time spent playing video games, but it has a limit: Make your child aware that video games are a fun pastime but not the only one, and for this reason it is necessary to intersperse them with various other activities. This point is directly connected to the fact that a balanced and healthy use of video games does not include their use as "passive babysitters".
    • Decide on a time limit BEFORE you start playing: So establish a play time, for example a maximum of 60 minutes a day on weekdays, and share it with the child. Keep track of the passage of time with a timer. When the timer rings, ask the child to turn off the device. If he tries to negotiate for more time in a calm manner, stick to your position by remembering the agreements. If he refuses to stop playing, starts yelling and has tantrums, you can use the time-out technique: turn off the game and take your child to a place in the house that you think is the most peaceful, asking him to stay there until he will have calmed down; Then offer to talk together about what happened. Keep in mind that, as an alternative to the timer, some consoles have specific programs that parents can set to limit play time, such as the Xbox 360 timer that pauses the game after a set period of time has elapsed.
    • Use the “Save Game” command when your child complains that they are halfway through the game: All games have a “save” function…use it! In this way, once the time available is over, your child will be able to save his progress without losing points, clues, etc.
    • When time is up, suggest alternative activities to the child: When the pre-established time ends, offer the child other activities that could stimulate his curiosity, such as playing with other toys or having fun outdoors, or doing a playful activity in your company. This will help you distract him more easily and away from the video game and will strengthen the bond between you.
    • Choose video games that are appropriate for your children's age: To make an adequate purchase, keep in mind that today most video games adopt a rating system. The age group for which the game is intended should be written on the box: prefer the ones that correspond to the child's years.
    • No console in the bedroom: place video games in a shared space in the house rather than in your children's bedroom. This will allow on the one hand parents to easily keep an eye on their child while he plays in front of the screen and show interest in his use of the media, and on the other to encourage the whole family to play together.

    Given these general guidelines, keep in mind that the appropriate use of video games is part of your child's growth and can have a very positive impact. On holidays or weekends, if he has completed all the homework and activities scheduled, and has played outdoors, don't be too concerned about limiting the time your child spends playing video games. If the use continues, remember to take regular breaks every 30/45 minutes of play.

    Go to the source in the original language

    We end our journey into the world of video games with an article specifically dedicated to parents.

    What are some useful ideas to keep in mind regarding the use of video games by our children? When does the time spent in front of a screen become excessive and how is it possible, in those cases, to limit it?

    For an overview of the psychological effects associated with video games, you may also be interested in the following articles:

    … Beneficial effects of video games:

    • Video games: cognitive benefits according to scientific research
    • Video games: 7 scientific studies explore their potential

    … Possible negative effects:

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