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Balancing Video Game Screen Time for Teens

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Unlock this lesson to learn how students can balance their video game screen time:

What parents, teachers, & students will learn

  • What students have to say about video game screen time
  • Tips for setting boundaries on video game screen time
  • Signs of video game addiction
  • Techniques teens can use to cut down on video game time

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Balancing Video Game Screen Time for Teens

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Video games can be a great way for teens to relieve stress and connect with friends. They provide endless adventure and the chance to practice problem-solving skills in a low-stakes environment. But here’s the thing: too much of a good thing can sometimes be, well not so good. Excessive video game use can lead to some not-so-fun consequences. It’s important to find a healthy balance of video game screen time for teens and be mindful of how they balance other activities with gaming. By making smart choices, teens can enjoy all the benefits of gaming while keeping their overall well-being in check.

Educators and parents: Guide your students' reflection and discussion with this student worksheet. (Log in to your Google account and select File-->Make a Copy)

Ways teens can set video game screen time boundaries

  • Decide ahead of time when you want to play video games and how long you want to play
  • Set a timer if you need help remembering when you wanted to stop gaming
  • If you need an accountability partner, tell a parent/guardian, sibling, or friend what time you want to stop gaming and ask them to hold you to it 
  • Set goals as a family by creating a family media agreement

How do teens manage video game screen time?

Parent and educator video lesson

How much video game time is too much?

The question of how much video game time is too much will vary from person to person. There are many positive effects of video games and some students may be able to positively support their mental health by using gaming as a coping mechanism. Gaming can cross the line from supporting a healthy lifestyle to becoming detrimental to a student’s well-being. 

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting video game time to 30-60 minutes on school days and under 2 hours on non-school days (Source: American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • Pay attention to how video games are making you feel. After playing for a while, ask yourself if you are still enjoying the time gaming or whether you are beginning to feel angry/bored/restless and want to consider moving on to another activity
  • Sometimes it may be appropriate to play video games for longer periods of time or limit play based on the other responsibilities and events that are going on in your life

Can video games be addictive? 

  • An addiction is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a person's inability to control use of a substance or behavior, despite negative consequences (Source: Mayo Clinic). This describes the experience of excessively playing video games for many teens (and adults)
  • Video games cause some teens to sacrifice their hygiene, self-care, school work, and offline hobbies while gaming
  • Video games can help teens escape the stress of everyday life as well as provide a dopamine hit while playing, which makes them want to play video games as often as possible

Symptoms of video game addiction include:

  • Bursts of anger when a student is required to stop playing video games or asked to limit video game time going forward
  • Lack of attention to personal hygiene and appearance, especially if this is a dramatic change from previous behavior
  • Difficulty keeping grades up at school 
  • Decreased interest in offline social activities or hobbies
  • Spending excessive amounts of money or time on video games to the point where it interferes with everyday life

In the news

Parents say game developer made "Fortnite" as "addictive as possible"
Parents who filed a lawsuit against Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite due to its addictive nature claimed that “their children in some cases stopped eating, showering or socializing because of their obsession with the game.” - Source: Washington Post

Techniques to help cut down on video game screen time for teens

  • Be aware of the time commitment of the games you choose to play - Some are more time intensive than others. If you are struggling to find a balance between online and offline activities, opt for games that don’t require a large time commitment (such as games that require you to be in a guild or play a certain amount of time weekly)
  • Participate in offline gaming activities - You can still enjoy your favorite games offline. Look for video game conventions, create video game-inspired art, or play a card game with friends
  • Look for active screen time activities - Video games are a form of passive entertainment. If you want to spend some of your screen time doing more active projects, consider learning how to program your own games or apps

Conclusion

Video games can be very positive, providing stress relief, social opportunities with friends, and entertainment, but there may be times when you want to scale back your video game screen time. Reducing your video game screen time, either temporarily or long-term, can help improve your well-being. Learning how to self-moderate and find balance with video game screen time can help gaming to continue to be a part of your life without interfering with school and other offline activities. 

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Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.

Unlock this lesson to learn how students can balance their video game screen time:

What parents, teachers, & students will learn

  • What students have to say about video game screen time
  • Tips for setting boundaries on video game screen time
  • Signs of video game addiction
  • Techniques teens can use to cut down on video game time

Preview this Resource

Log in or join the VIP membership today to view all SmartSocial.com resources about balancing screen time!

Become a member or log in to learn more on this topic

Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.
Quotation marks

This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

StarStarStarStarStar

Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

Quotation marks

Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

StarStarStarStarStar

Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

Quotation marks

This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

StarStarStarStarStar

Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

Learn more

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