What Should I Know About My Child’s Online Gaming?

Based on a Harris Poll survey of 1,178 U.S. youth ages 8 to 18 who play video games, about 8.5% are addicted1. Douglas Gentile, an assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State University, said:

"This is the first study to tell us the national prevalence of pathological play among youth gamers, and it is almost 1 in 10" 1.

Parents should understand the harmful consequences of this unbalanced behavior, and decide with their children appropriate limits for time spent playing these types of games. If they keep current, keep checking, and keep communicating, parents can ensure video games provide a safe and fun outlet for children.

Keep Current
Online gaming is a technology that connects players together over some form of computer network, typically the Internet. There are many kinds of online games and simulations. Some children may play for excessive amounts of time, to the extent that they are physically and socially harmed. According to the American Psychiatric Association, children that played violent video games have significantly higher feelings of aggression and differences in brain activity during both cognitive motor activity and resting periods 2 This same study reported these children have more trouble paying attention in school, poorer grades in school, more health problems, are more likely to feel "addicted," and even steal to support their habit 2.

Keep Communicating
Explaining the negative consequences of investing excessive time and resources into a virtual world at the expense of neglecting the real world is the first step in protecting children from the effects of online gaming addiction.

Determine, with your children, a reasonable limit for the amount of time they can spend playing games, and/or establish a curfew. Also, encourage your child to add variety into their day by investing their time and efforts into activities that are socially engaging, physically active, or mentally active.

Keep Checking
Typically, the children who are most likely to become addicted to online gaming are those who feel socially uncomfortable, neglected, or lonely. Determine activities that can replace gaming time with other fun activities that provide opportunities for achievement and success.


References
1 LiveScience.com. (2009, April 20). Some Children Really Are Addicted to Video Games. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/health/090420-children-video-games-addicted.html
2 American Psychiatric Association. (2010, May 24). [News Release] retrieved from
http://www.psych.org/MainMenu/Newsroom/NewsReleases/2010-News-Releases/Video-Game-Study.aspx

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