It’s not a bad thing if your kids play video games; they provide an activity that gets their minds thinking and is safe entertainment, improves hand-eye coordination and more. But … sometimes a child’s playing video games can go too far and develop into an addiction.
How do I know if my kids are addicted to video games?
Let’s start with a look at family history. Often, addictions occur because of circumstances outside of anyone’s control, namely if a child has an addictive personality or if addiction runs in a family.
I’m a good example. In fact, in my TED Talk on empowering children to rise above addictions to technology, I discuss my own addiction to technology.
I was nine when my grandma noticed I refused to set down the video game controller. Not until I had gathered every point and finished at the top of the leaderboard did I even take a break. That night she sat me down and explained the concept of addiction and that there were other addictions in my family history. She talked with me about being careful of letting video games take over and control my choices without realizing it.
Keep in mind that this was when I was a kid and video games had maybe four colors and the graphics were far from realistic. Fast forward to today where technology and imagery for games has flourished, recreating our world behind a screen where the rules are different than in real life and kids can act out their anger, fantasies and more without consequence.
To make matters worse, behavioral psychologists and programming experts are actually using our vulnerabilities — neurochemically speaking — to ensure we don’t turn these games off.
As a parent who doesn’t often play these games it may be hard to understand why they are getting so drawn in, but when you realize that developers are expertly trained and educated on how to keep our kids hooked, it becomes much easier to empathize and realize we need to parent our kids more closely when it comes to gaming.
There are a handful of warning signs parents can look out for when it comes to kids addiction to video games (or any other addiction). They are:
Preoccupation — Does your child neglect relationships or responsibilities?
Anger/irritability — Does your child become angered or irritable when you interfere with their time online or gaming?
Anxiousness/nervousness — Do you notice your child grow increasingly anxious or nervous when they are not in front of their video games or spending time online?
Self-care — Are your children not interested in taking care of themselves or have you noticed a decline in their self-care practices as their time playing video games online has increased?
How to avoid addiction to video games
Create limitations — Only allow your children to play video games for a certain amount of time each day. Set alarms or reminders to make sure they are aware that their time playing is up.
Set goals for offline activity — Encourage your kids to have other activities. Outdoor sports, reading books, meeting friends and getting involved in after-school activities and clubs are fantastic ways to manage time online.
Supervise your kids — If you really want to crack down on the time spent playing video games — you can supervise online activity through monitoring software and ISP programs.
What if my kid is already addicted to video games?
If you think your child is potentially addicted to video games, you can still intervene.
Set timelines — Through timers, app monitoring, or internal programs that come with the device they are using to game, you can monitor and decrease the time your kids play games online
Create balance — For every minute your child is connected to a gaming device, ensure your child also has an equal amount of time being spent offline with friends, reading (real) books or playing sports outside.
Educate them on what the video game industry is actually doing — Knowledge is power and that is why we spend our time educating kids on how the industry is working to keep them hooked.
Do you want more ways to protect your kids from online addiction? Digital Citizen Academy provides an easy step-by-step approach to work with your kids to keep them safe online. Learn more about our Home Program today.