Are you worried that your child might have a video game addiction? It’s called gaming disorder and it’s very real.
The World Health Organization, in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), has defined gaming disorder as “a pattern of gaming behavior characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”
Video Game Addiction
One of the scariest things I’ve read about video game addiction was a study by California State University. In it, they report that MRI scans show that video games can have the same effect on your child’s brain as alcohol or drugs.
Playing a game lights up the reward system in their brains. It feels good to do well, and all the sounds, lights, and colors that go along with it make them want to have that feeling again and again and again.
Also, just like an alcoholic, a video game addiction can change the life of the people around the player in a negative way. If you’ve ever battled with your child over how long they can play a video game, you know exactly what I mean.
Take a look at these 9 questions. Are your answers concerning to you?
1. Does your child spend more time playing video games than any other non-school activity?
2. Is your child’s school work suffering because they spend so much time playing video games?
3. Is their personal hygiene suffering because they won’t stop playing a video game?
4. Do they have friends they hang out with that aren’t online?
5. Do they spend time with their friends doing something other than playing video games?
6. Do they often become angry when playing a game?
7. Are they missing sleep because of video games?
8. Do you have trouble getting them to do things that don’t involve gaming?
9. Have you noticed they are depressed or short-tempered?
10. Have you caught them in a lie surrounding playing a video game?
How much time does your child spend gaming?
If you don’t know, you should track their playing every day for a week to see what kind of time they are actually spending.
Although there is a lot of back and forth among experts, there are no agreed-upon hard and fast numbers for how much is too much game time.
My two cents? If you track their video game time and see that they spend more time playing than you personally think they should, it’s a problem.
What should a parent do about a possible video game addiction?
Step one is to cut back on the time they are allowed to play. They aren’t going to like it, but kids don’t like most of what their parents do when it comes to keeping them healthy.
Vegetables, doctor’s visits, exercise, flu shots – these are all things most kids dislike to some degree. Our job as parents is to make them do it anyway because we know that is what’s best for them.
Step two is to use those parental controls on your child’s devices. They are there to help you do just that – control. I’m always surprised at the number of parents that don’t know what they are or how to use them. It can be confusing. To find out how to set them up on your child’s device, do a quick Google search.
Step three is to visit with your child’s doctor. What is their opinion of how much is too much time spent gaming? What do they suggest parents do to prevent or solve a problem?
If you feel it’s right for your child, you can also consider having them see a therapist.
Quick tips for parents of gamers.
Set clear rules for how much time they are allowed to play.
Monitor their time playing games and track it.
Use a timer to alert them that game time is over.
Tell them upfront that the “I’m in the middle of a game” defense is not acceptable.
Have easy to understand consequences for kids who don’t follow the rules.
What are your tips for managing your child’s video gameplay?
I believe that other parents often have the best advice about challenges we all face with our kids, don’t you? If you have great ideas, tips, tricks, for managing your child’s video game time, it would be so great if you’d share.
I’m sure that many readers face this same battle with their kids and have found a way to deal with it in a really clever way. I look forward to reading your advice.