Many of us can remember with nostalgic fondness growing up with limited or no access to any kind of video games. It was a time when children played with physical toys and imagination was the most important tool in any child’s toy room. Nowadays, however, video games have become a staple of our children’s play time. Gaming consoles are a must have for many children, while interactive games on computers, laptops and even smartphones have quickly become the norm. There is no escaping it, and there is nothing to say that video games are inherently bad. However, when does a pastime become an addiction? Let’s take a look at some of the warning signs that might suggest your child is spending too much time playing video games.
One of the most obvious signs that video games are taking up too much of your child’s time is falling grades from school. A sudden drop in grades can often be attributable to a change in habits at home. When your child is putting less time into their homework so that they have more free time to play video games, you know you have a problem. Pay close attention to reports from school, and it is always important that your child understands that getting their homework finished more quickly doesn’t necessarily mean more time on the computer.
Playing video games stimulate different parts of the brain, and if your child is playing on their video games too soon before bed they may have difficulty getting to sleep. To this end, parents should consider imposing set times whereby video game play is allowed, and this should always finish some time before the child is due to go to bed.
Video games are meant to be fun pastimes that don’t require emotional engagement. If your child is forming too close an attachment with their games or game, it may manifest itself through mood swings, upset or distress at not being allowed to play. This level of attachment is not healthy for a young child, and can negatively affect their ability to interact socially with others. Your child should enjoy playing video games, and it is certainly healthy for them to want to play video games, but they should never need to play video games. If that behaviour presents itself, it is a strong indication that an addiction may be forming.