- Risks of excessive gaming:
- Signs my child is playing too much:
- How to cut down their gaming time
Most parents will agree that playing too many video games is not good for a child. But the difficult part is understanding where to draw the line and how to stop a gaming addiction. In an era where online learning is mandatory, they are spending more time than ever in front of the screens. In this article, we are going to point out the signs that tell us gaming is having a negative effect on our child’s wellbeing, and a few tips on how to pry them away from their consoles.
Risks of excessive gaming:
When we think about the negatives of our children playing video games it’s mainly considered a waste of time when they would d something more productive. However, this is not the only downside to them playing.
Video game addiction
When an individual plays video games for extended periods of time they run the risk of becoming addicted to video games. Video game addiction is an official mental health disorder as recognized by the World Health Organisation. It is more formally known as internet gaming disorder. The addiction is a behavioral addiction therefore your child wouldn’t actually be addicted to the video game itself. But rather how it makes them feel when they play. That feeling of success and accomplishment fuels their addiction which research shows can ultimately lead to chemical imbalances in the brain.
The decline in mental health
Not only do video games make people feel good when they play. But it also does a great job of suppressing negative emotions such as fear, sadness, and anxiety. The problem with this is, these emotions, particularly at a young age are essential for personal growth. Learning how to healthily deal with and engage with these sensations is a part of life. When children play video games to avoid negative emotions they often get overwhelmed when they feel them. Ultimately this leads to a vicious cycle of them playing more video games to escape. So, how to stop a gaming addiction?
Signs my child is playing too much:
Every household has a different set of rules and every child is different. So it can be a hard task when trying to figure out how much gaming is too much? and how to stop a gaming addiction? However, here are some of the red flags in your child’s behavior to help identify early signs of their addiction.
Obsessive thinking about video games
Being excited to play a new video game is perfectly normal and understandable amongst children. In fact, many adults who game still feel the same way. However, when their thoughts about video games start to become the only thing they care about then it might be time to intervene.
- You might find that your child has a shorter attention span with their preoccupation with gaming.
- They might be carrying out activities with less interest as they fantasize about gaming
- Are they missing meals and losing appetite in order to continue playing
Of course, communication is key and the best way to get an understanding of what they’re thinking is to ask them about it. Asking about their favorite activity to do for fun is a good question and can often tell you all you need.
Poor grades or performance in school
This can be one of the biggest indicators that your child is playing too many video games. As previously mentioned when a person develops video game addiction it can cause chemical imbalances in the brain. These chemical imbalances are usually associated with dopamine which is responsible for memory, learning, and cognitive function. All of which is paramount when doing schoolwork.
But video games also happen to skew people’s perception of success and motivation. When someone plays video games excessively they begin to rely on in-game accomplishments to satisfy them rather than real-world goals. The instant gratification they can get from gaming messes with their desire to work hard. And dedicate themselves to things greater than winning a battle royal in Fortnite. We have to take all these facts into consideration before asking how to stop a gaming addiction?
How to cut down their gaming time
So now that you’re all caught up on the negative effects of video games and what to look out for, let’s focus on how we can effectively cut down their gaming time and how to stop a gaming addiction.
Gaming as a reward
Allowing your child to play a set amount of time for getting good grades, being well behaved, or having success in extracurricular activities is a much better alternative to removing them altogether. This form of positive reinforcement can create a much healthier relationship with gaming moving forward, without making you the tyrant that took away their games.
One thing to remember is that we do not want to seem like we are against our little ones when reducing the number of video games they are allowed to play. We want to create as little friction as possible between you and your child so explain to them that you are on their side. Overcoming their obsession with video games can be lonely so it’s important that they can trust you to work through it.
Find alternative activities
For a developing child, it’s not essential to get rid of video games entirely. There can be social benefits as many children spend time online playing games together after school. Allowing them a time and place for video games can help to maintain these important relationships.
However, it is important that they find other more productive activities and indoor games to satisfy the time that video games used to. Sometimes parents have a tendency to throw their child a book and say “read!” But engaging with a book can be almost impossible for a child that is used to the high stimulation of video games. Instead, they will need a few different activities to successfully occupy them.
Something challenging that will stimulate them like learning an instrument or martial arts. They can see measurable growth as they used to in video games except they are learning a valuable skill.
Social activity – The aforementioned social aspect of gaming needs to be covered as they will need opportunities to build social skills in the real world. Things such as after-school activities and sports clubs like football, basketball, chess, and many more.
Finally, video games are frequently used as a way to relax and unwind so your child will likely need a new way to “chill out”. Things that are low energy are usually best like drawing or reading.
When it comes to our children we always want the best for their well-being. If you’d like to know more about video game addiction and how to stop a gaming addiction, The Mindful Gamer is here to help.