My Child Can't Stop Playing Video Games
It’s more common than ever to hear parents who say, “My child cannot stop playing video games.” This is an increasingly desperate cry from parents who are having difficulties getting their children to get off their electronics and lead a healthier, more present life.
Arguments between children and parents about the appropriate amount of time that should be spent on the computer, tablet, phone or playing video games has become a daily routine for many. While some children have become accustomed to spending a limited amount of time on electronics, many more have become more dependent on electronic devices. Furthermore, the amount of children and teens addicted to video games has increased as well.
Like all addictions, psychological treatment is needed. However, that does not mean it will be easy. Many parents notice that their children are unable or do not want to stop playing video games. That’s when it’s important to take action before the situation gets out of control.
Are Video Games Safe for Children?
Roblox, a popular video game platform for children and teens, has had several disturbing incidents occur due to certain users hacking the system. Unfortunately, one of the instances was the rape of the avatar of a 7-year-old girl by two other users.
The girl’s mother, Amber Petersen, told Facebook that one morning that she saw her daughter playing on her tablet with a shocked expression. As she approached, she saw two other avatars raping her daughter’s female character. Despite feeling disgusted, she managed to screenshot the incidence to immediately file a complaint.
Roblox allows users to create their own avatars, virtual worlds, and games. In addition, it guarantees that it has strict filters that protect the many children who play this game worldwide. However, the creator of the game recognizes that, in this case, the perpetrators were able to go around the security system.
The platform, which has over 40 million games online, is a favorite for more than 60 million children and adolescents worldwide. Although the platform is recognized for its security, this story brings about an important lesson: Internet games can never be guaranteed 100% safe.
The Effects Video Games Have on Children
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should not play more than two hours of video games per day. Playing video games in moderation can be beneficial to children in several ways. However, this cannot get out of control.
Most importantly, the time dedicated to video games should not be taking up time used for physical activity, rest, or sleep.
However, the problem is when they cannot control their urge to play video games, and it becomes more of an addiction than a hobby or activity.
The neural patterns exhibited in video game addicts indicate that there is an imbalance in the the part of the brain that controls the reward system. This is similar to other addictive disorders.
In addition, in cases where there is constant exposure to the violent content of certain video games, desensitization happens. These processes affect regions of the brain linked to the control of emotions, attention, and concentration.
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The reality is that 21st-century children are surrounded by technology.
However, this does not mean that we have no control over their technology use. We can control at what age our children have access to certain electronic devices. We can also largely control what content they are exposed to and how many hours they spend in front of a screen.
If from a young age they use smartphones or tablets daily, then how can we be surprised if they develop an addiction?
As they grow up, the daily hours spent in front of a screen only increases. Oftentimes, we also don’t know which games they’re playing or which websites they’re visiting. This can be a cause for concern for many parents, and it only makes sense that these children would not want to limit their time in front of a screen.
Parents are responsible for preventing their children from developing an unhealthy addiction to video games and any sort of technology in general. After all, a video game addiction can affect your child’s life.
From the moment that they have their first device, it’s important to establish clear and firm rules. These rules should cover aspects such as how long technology should be used, what technology can be used, and what type of content is permitted.
However, it’s not only about setting rules and supervising your child, you also have to set a good example. For example, if each time your child needs to tell you something or wants to play with you and he or she finds you absorbed in your phone or tablet, this is not setting a good example.
Any rules you set will not have the desired effect if you aren’t setting a good example.
Warning Signs of Addiction
When your child does not want to stop playing video games, you may notice one or more of the following signs. If you think your child is suffering from an addiction to video games or that his or her video game habits could lead to addiction, it is time to take action before the situation becomes out of control and possibly affects the stability of your child.
- Your child shows unusual concern for or importance of the video game when he or she is not playing. He or she only talks about the game.
- When your child is not playing, he or she has mood swings, is discouraged, shows aggression, is sad, or is defensive.
- Your child dedicates more and more time to playing video games.
- You child loses interest in playing with other children, his or her hobbies, or in socializing with friends. He or she becomes isolated from social interaction.
- When you try to stop or reduce the time your child spends playing video games, you are unsuccessful.
- Your child does not realize or lies about the amount of time spent playing.
- Your child does not sleep or eat or becomes unhygienic in order to spend more time playing.
- There is an increase in bad grades and disinterest in studying. Playing a few minutes before studying turns into hours of non-stop playing.
- Instead of facing something difficult, your child puts all his or her energy into the video game. He or she does not want to talk, argue or face the problem. The video game becomes an escape from reality.
What Should I Do if my Child Can’t Stop Playing Video Games?
When your child doesn’t want to stop playing video games, you need to take the appropriate measures.
However, keep in mind that arguments or restrictions are not necessarily more effective than a compromise or mutual agreement. Negotiation is the best way to establish clear limits and rules. Additionally, always remember to re-affirm these rules and limits with love.
Below are some methods to help your child limit their time playing video games:
- Remove the device or computer from your child’s room. Put it in a common area that you can easily monitor.
- Ensure that video game time comes only after completing homework and other household chores.
- Agree on the amount of time per day that your child will spend playing video games. You can choose to start with a looser period that you can gradually reduce as time goes on.
- Let your child know when he or she has 15 minutes let, 10 minutes left, and 5 minutes left. This will ensure that your child is not surprised when the time is over.
- Teach your child how to save the game. After spending much time and effort to pass a certain part, it may be hard for your child to leave the game, so saving at each end point is very important.
- Restrict which games your child plays. Monitor the ratings based on age and violence.
- Encourage your child to partake in other activities. This includes playing sports, partaking in social activities or clubs, doing artistic work, etc.
- Start family activities. Share time with your children. You can play board games, go to the park, or even play video games together. Family time spent together is important.
- Clearly and firmly state the consequences of failing to comply with any of the limitations or rules. For example, a punishment can be one hour less of playing video games or a day without playing any video games at all. Remember to be firm with these consequences.
If- after agreeing and establishing limitations – the situation does not improve, your child may have a video game addiction. The best option in this case is to see a specialist for help.
There can be serious side affects to video game addiction both in the long and short term. It can affect a person’s physical, emotional and mental health. As parents, we must help our children overcome this problem. The safety and health of our children largely depends on adequate parental supervision.