You can’t escape video games today, unless you’re raising your children under a rock. They are everywhere and since they’re mainstream, you can expect that your children will probably ask to play them, or even to own them.
This is a real conundrum for some parents. Maybe when your child was little, you vowed to never let the play video games, or to limit the time they spent on electronic toys and devices, but now that they are older and all of their peers are doing it, you’re getting asked all the time.
Maybe you’ve already given in and allow your child to play video games but you’re not sure what the appropriate amount of play time should be. It’s a tricky issue for many parents.
How much time should your child spend on video games?
We can’t just give one answer that works across the board for every child. Their age, maturity level, and other factors will be taken into consideration. No one else can really judge your child’s needs other than you. There are some guidelines you can follow, to help you determine what is an acceptable amount of time your child should spend on gaming.
Here are some guidelines:
Gather the facts
Before you start deciding how much video game time your child should have, take some time to inform yourself on the facts about screen time and how it affects your children.
For example, did you know that a new study out of Oxford University has found that children who play console or PC games for an hour or less per day tend to be more social and satisfied with life than kids who don’t play any video games at all?
Create a family plan
So, now that you see that some video games can be good for your child, it’s time to set the rules and framework for when and how you will allow games in your household.
If giving your child about an hour a day, when will this hour take place? After school, after homework, after chores? How much time will you allow on the weekends? Will video games be played solo or only when friends or siblings are playing, too? Create a plan for video games in your house and then talk to your kids about it so everyone is on the same page.
Monitor what they play and when
Now that you know a little bit of gaming is okay (1-3 hours) and too much is detrimental (more than three hours a day), you should monitor your child’s play time. Unsupervised play time means your child may play more than you want them to. Most children (especially younger children) will not have the self-discipline to just stop.
You also need to be involved in what they are playing. While an hour or so of video games can be good for your child, this isn’t true if they’re playing a violent game. Look at parental ratings, reviews by other parents, and try the games yourself. This is the only way to really know what your child is playing and what impact it will have on them.
Remember, no one knows your child like you. Ultimately, you have the control and all the power to determine what is right for your child and your home. Most children will become glassy-eyed and hypnotized when they play too long.
It may make them irritable, or aggressive, and you may have a difficult time getting them to stop on their own. Some children will become obsessed with a video game and become incapable of talking about anything else. This is why you need to set the boundaries and create the rules.