9 tips to regulate the use of video games in children

The excessive practice of video games could become a health problem. If your child spends more time on consoles than spending time with the family, it’s time to take matters into their own hands.

Last update: February 24, 2022

The excessive use of video games represents a risk for the mental health of children. The University Clinic of Navarra points out that the lack of control of said activity leads to gambling behaviours, disrupts social life and causes detachment from reality.

In addition, spending hours absorbed between images on the television, smartphone, computer or tablet, looking for rewards and leveling up, leads to childhood sedentary lifestyle, obesity and overweight.

A publication in the magazine Farmacia Profesional also links the technopathy with hearing problems, visual stress or eye strain, neck pain, tendinitis, repetitive motion injuries, technological insomnia and carpal tunnel syndrome. Some psychological consequences are social depression, addiction to social networks and nomophobia.

Why is it important to control the use of video games?

The Wild FI agency revealed that between January and March 2020, the global consumption of video games increased by 62%. In 2021, an article in the journal Nursing Global assured that excessive use increased dramatically, especially among men between the ages of 10 and 19.

It is advisable that parents or guardians direct the time dedicated to video games, in order to avoid affections to the health and behavior of children. Leaving them alone makes it difficult to stop addictive situations where, for example, the player lies to stay in front of the screen.

The bulletin of the General Council of Psychology of Spain recommends setting limits on digital games to encourage positive family relationships, for children to interact with real friends, get enough sleep, participate in extracurricular activities and keep up with classes and homework.

Tips to control the use of video games

Video games are designed to attract, excite and captivate those who consume them. However, excessive dedication is not healthy. In fact, the World Health Organization added video game use disorder to the International Classification of Diseases.

Different health organizations warn that the excessive use of video games results in physical and mental problems.

1. Set hours

Allow one or two hours a day for video game use, so you control anxiety, visual fatigue and prevent addiction. If the child breaks the rule by going over, even a few minutes, deduct it from the next turns.

2. Explain that there are more forms of entertainment

Teach the child that there is a world away from the screen. Encourage him to play sports, sign him up for art classes, or invite him to go outside. The more activities that occupy you after school, the fewer hours there will be for video games.

3. Have a solution to the possible protest

If this is the case, remind him that he is not in a championship eSports. At the time of turning off the device, it is likely that an excuse will arise to stay a while longer. You can pause and save the evolution until the next day.

4. Activate parental control

Virtually all modern video game systems support parental controls, so adults set the time so that once the lapse is complete, the console will deactivate. On smartphones or tablets, operating systems iOS and Android provide options in which you limit the daily use of applications.

And if you go for a simpler alternative, activate a timer on your phone, so you verify that the child left the electronic game at the scheduled time.

5. Assign responsibilities

Just as you set hours for video games, clarifies that there are responsibilities before taking control. Children are required to complete school assignments and help with household chores appropriate to their age. Let them know that breaking these rules has an impact on downtime.

6. Offer positive reinforcement

Infocop Online suggests rewarding activities not associated with video games. This magazine of the General Council of Psychology of Spain notes that rewards are not only material, as verbal praise and attention are also rewarding. They also improve the relationship between the parties.

7. No consoles in the room

Video game consoles must be in common use areas. If there is a machine in the room, supervision is difficult.

In the case of computers or telephones it is more complicated. An alternative is to require your child to handle portable devices at certain times.

8. Play too

If you accompany your child in the game it is simpler to watch that he respects the established time. This is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Suggest taking turns, teaching you tricks and sensing your interest in getting involved and enjoying their tastes.

9. Share family time

Walks, events and even moments to see a movie with family or friends are ideal to detach from the fictional missions on the screen. Spending quality time with your children awakens their interest in participating in joint activities. Teach, especially to the little ones, that it is possible to have fun with games without technology.

Parental rules to regulate the use of screens have a sense of health and protection of children, even if they do not understand it.

When to seek professional help?

Some warning signs about the need to seek professional help to treat children’s addictions to video games are the following:

  • He prefers violent video games and this is reflected in his personality.
  • Does not respect the schedules established for this activity.
  • Playtime interferes with their family, school, recreational and social life.
  • Holds on to gear to level up, shows obsession, feels sad or anxious if you don’t let him play.
  • Only video games calm his bad mood.
  • Shows some attention deficit.
  • You don’t want to do other activities that you used to enjoy.

Do not turn the use of video games into a family fight

The attitude an adult takes in a situation with a child greatly influences the infant’s response. Do not wait for the use of video games to become a problem. Since you decide to buy the console, in a good way it points out what the scenario will be like.

It explains why to activate it at specific times, the importance of not having personal contact with other players online (especially if they do not know each other), the sensitivity of sharing private information and clarifies that you will constantly monitor both the chosen games and the matches.

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