Parent Tips for Responsible Video Gaming

Many of our deepest concerns around video games have become more important to address, as the use of electronic gaming platforms rose to all-time high levels this year.  Sixty-four million children in our country play video games which is 91% of all kids.  These numbers are up nearly thirteen percent from a 2009 study. Gaming addiction is now more broadly being recognized and categorized as a mental health condition. As parents, practitioners, and professionals in the field, we need to encourage healthy and socially responsible gaming patterns, starting at an early age. Here are some tips to help parents and professionals in that process.


1) Limit screen time

Addiction to video games will be listed as a mental health condition for the first time by the World Health Organization this year. For kids who are intensely drawn to video game play and others, it is helpful for parents to establish a reasonable agreement regarding how much time your child can play video games during the week and on weekends. Also helpful, is designating a time each week for children to unplug from all electronics and engage in a mindful or social activity with actual people.   Here are some of the benefits and suggestions for promoting mindfulness. To learn more about video game click here


2) Beware of in-game purchases

For many children who play video games the line between reality and fantasy can be easily blurred through the use of fake money and other incentives. During play, children are frequently offered opportunities to make purchases on a range of consumer items such as expensive sneakers, jerseys and other items. Parents should be mindful that strong and unrealistic spending and consumer purchasing has become a prevalent part of the gaming experience. The emphasis on logos and consumerism can outflank actual play.  These aspects can contribute to addiction and develop a host of implicit values that parents may be unaware of.  For a list of video games that have in-game purchases and more suggestions on how to navigate them click here



3) Stay Fit

There are several games that require movement and exercise..  Why not turn the gaming experience into an opportunity to improve physical health?  As health concerns over the rising rates of obesity in our population become more prevalent, it is important to look to video games and gaming systems that utilize the wide range of interactive technology available now such as the Xbox Kinect, the Wii, and Playstation Move systems. Some of these are listed here


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4) Take Action

Find a game that engages your child in social responsibility. There are now games that also promote social activism and community awareness.  


5) Restrict online communications. 

Many games for elementary-aged kids offer online components like chat. We don't recommend these features for young children. If they're offered, you can usually disable them.