Like most hobbies, playing videos games can be safe in moderation. However, younger students who have not yet developed the ability to self-regulate their behavior need guidance and support to develop those skills.
Listen to this episode on our podcast:
Topics covered in this Parent Safety Guide:
- The negative impact video games can have on students
- Red flags to look out for
- What to do if your child is spending too much time playing video games
- How to set limitations
- Prevention tips
- Topics to help start a dialog
The negative effects of video games on students
A Canadian study from McGill University shows that human-computer interactions, such as playing video games, can have a negative impact on the brain.
Some negative effects of videos games are:
- Noticeable changes to behavior
- Ignoring or not prioritizing responsibilities or interests over game time
- Continuing to play games despite the negative impact it may have
- Difficulty sleeping or changes in sleep patterns
- Declining grades or difficulty in school
- Can lead to social isolation
- Poor time management skills
Popular video games with teens and tweens:
- Fortnite: Battle Royale
- Call of Duty
- Grand Theft Auto
- PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (similar to Fortnite)
- League Of Legends
Why should parents care?
- Some parents believe that their kids are safe online if they don’t have social media. However, if they play video games they are still at risk
- You may think you’re aware of your child’s game play, but if they’re wearing a headset and playing in multiplayer mode, they are a million miles away
- When your kid is playing video games in multiplayer mode they’re talking to people you don’t know. They’re talking to people who do not love your child as much as you do
- Too much game time can have a negative impact on your student’s health
The Negative Effects of Video Games in the News
We don’t need research to see the negative impact of gaming in some people’s lives. Many of us see it in our families, where young kids might isolate themselves at the expense of almost everything else life has to offer. Gaming by design – like social media – preys on some of the same thinking we see in young people with substance use disorder: fatalism, impulsivity and the desire for instant gratification — and much more so than in the past. –Daily Herald
Schools warn parents of ‘negative effects’ of video game on students. Several Australian schools have issued advice to parents about potential for bullying or abuse. –The Guardian
It’s quite possible that excessive time spent playing games — as with any hobby — may be unhealthy or a sign that someone is struggling. –Business Insider
Gaming disorder is considered a mental health condition
- In 2018, the World Health Organization officially began recognizing gaming disorder as a mental health condition
- The Internal Classification of Diseases is the foundation for identifying health trends and statistics worldwide
- In the latest edition of its Internal Classification of Diseases, the World Health Organization officially recognized gaming disorder
What are gaming disorder warning signs?
According to World Health Organization, there are 3 signs that someone might be struggling with gaming disorder:
- Impaired control over gaming (e.g. onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context)
- Increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities
- Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences
What are some red flags parents need to look out for?
According to Dr. Mike Bishop, tech addiction expert, these red flags indicate that your child is struggling with screen time and gaming:
- Short tempers that are aggravated by screen time. If your kids are playing video games, you can sometimes see them getting frustrated at the game. Watch out for a quick temper and see if the game has got control over their mood.
- Kids are not able to self-soothe when they’re playing video games. This translates into the next point, which is having problems going to sleep or waking up in the morning.
- Having access to a device every night. If we let our kids use devices without limits set, without some rules and structure, they’re going to take their devices to bed with them and they’re going to be up at night browsing social media or playing games. Research says, allowing your child to have a TV or device in their room unchecked at night results in less sleep and having a harder time waking up in the morning.
- Passing up face-to-face activities for screen time activities. Another major red flag is when you see your child passing up normal opportunities for socialization or outside play.
- There’s a lot of social learning that goes on with neighborhood pickup games (basketball, baseball, etc). If a child’s only interactions are through screen activities, they’re missing out on a ton of social learning opportunities.
What can parents do?
- Before giving your student access to a new game, ask them to explain why they want to play it. Then, spend some time playing the game on your own and decide if it is safe for your family to play
- Know that your child has perhaps already played it at their friend’s house
- Schedule game time and set time limits beforehand
- Teach your children that video games are only to be played in moderation (and, best of all, as a family)
- Challenge your student to find offline activities they enjoy and can add to their resume
- Have an open dialog about video games with your children. Consider talking about the dangers of playing with strangers, sharing personal information in chats, graphic video game content, and bullying behavior
- Having these discussions with your children will help them understand why game time guidelines are set and can encourage them to self-regulate their behavior
- Model positive screen time behaviors around your children
- Always supervise game time (and play with them, if possible)
- Talk to your students about what can happen if they conduct themselves in a certain way, or are in contact with certain people, or are looking at certain content during game time
- Consider requiring household tasks be done to earn game time