You see the headlines at least once a week. Children and teenagers are becoming addicted to an everyday item: video games. The amount of time children spend in front of screens increases each year.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) cites that on average a child between the ages of 8-18 spends upwards of 6 hours a day in front of a screen not related to school work. As this number increases, QTIME wants to answer some questions about what video game addiction is and how this may effect your kids.
What is gaming addiction?
Gaming addiction, known as ‘Gaming Disorder’ in the medical community, has been described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a disease which is
a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.
Only a small proportion of gamers currently exhibit this extreme of a reaction to playing video games. Mainly, the WHO and governments want doctors, parents, and gamers to be aware that spending multiple hours in front of a game daily can negatively impact your health and social life. In rare cases, people can become so involved and obsessed with the game that they completely disregard their health, sleep and safety to constantly play. If this behavior continues for more than 12 months, it can be considered a disorder.
Could my child be addicted to video games?
It’s very rare that a child is technically addicted to playing video games. The WHO sets some criteria to help you evaluate this behavior. If your child has been exhibiting excessive video game play (2 or more hours a day) for over a year, there could be a problem.
If this behavior starts to have a negative impact on their social life, health, sleep or school work, parents should start to set Xbox and PS4 time limits and work with their children to find different ways to ensure they only play a healthy amount of video games.
It is important for parents to realize that playing video games is not always negative. In moderation, video games can have a positive effect on cognitive thinking, social engagement, and provide your children with higher life satisfaction. The main concern for all parents should be helping children and teenagers find a healthy balance between their time spent playing video games and their life spent outside of screen time.
How do video games encourage kids and teenagers to continually play and obsess about a game?
As video games have evolved, they incorporate reward systems into game play and continually expand their game’s world to keep gamers constantly playing. This makes it easy for players to become obsessed with a game. If a kid constantly needs to play the game in order to level up their character, get more points / treasure or explore new parts of a game, it can be hard to quit playing.
Most companies making video games want their players to constantly play and engage with their game. It ensures more profits for their company and more users playing the game. Being aware of the strategies used to engage video game players can help parents identify what kind of video games their children play and why they may want to play that game continually. This can help parents determine the right way to set time limits for their children’s gaming and decide when to let their kids buy the newest versions or latest expansions of games.
Some people think that gaming addiction is not real. How should we assess the different opinions we see on the internet?
There are always extreme cases of addiction based on individual personalities and this is often what you read about when you see headlines regarding video game addiction. Most children and teenagers that play video games do not have an addiction issue. Most likely, their friends all play same the game and they feel the need to continually level up or explore the game world and, subsequently, spend more time playing.
Playing video games does not mean that your child is addicted or could become addicted to video games. Moderation is key to ensuring your child has enough time to participate in their home, school and social activities.
What can help decrease the amount of time my child spends playing video games?
Get to know your child’s gaming habits. First, find out what games they are playing, how each game works and whether they play it with an online community. This can help you understand why they may want to spend two or more hours a day playing the game, especially if they have an online community that specifies when and how long gamers are supposed to play.
Next establish the daily average time your kid spends playing video games and then set time limits based on that information. In the medical community, it is generally accepted that kids should spend less than 2 hours a day playing video games.
Please refer to our previous article specifically explaining the importance of establishing PS4 and Xbox time limits for your household. Time limits ensure that your kids have enough time to spend on familial, school, and social life while still allowing them to play games.
The key to video game play is ensuring moderation. If you need help finding out how much time your kids play video games or ensuring specific time limits are maintained throughout the week, you can invest in a QTIME which takes away any guesswork around gaming and time limits.