Many of us have kids who won’t stop playing video games, and we wonder, is this healthy? The answer is, maybe. That’s probably not the answer you wanted to hear, but the truth is no one knows your kid better than you do when it comes to knowing their limits and what’s right for them. A video game addiction can have harmful effects on your kid, but it’s not too late to implement new patterns in your home.
The Effects of Video Game Addiction on Your Child
A behavioral addiction such as a video game addiction can have several adverse effects on our kids, such as loneliness, social difficulties, problems sleeping, and social issues. This means it’s best to let them play in moderation under some form of supervision that works for your home.
Here are some of the effects video game addiction can have on your child and how to start incorporating limits and healthy activities.
Video Games And Loneliness
A 2018 study found a strong correlation between computer game addiction and loneliness for children aged 9 through 10. As the rate of computer game use increased, so did the rate of loneliness, suggesting that the result of pathological game addiction is loneliness for kids. And according to the study, boys tend to experience higher rates of loneliness than girls do.
But the exciting thing is that loneliness does not always correlate with video game use. Some experts argue that interactive video gaming can help alleviate loneliness.
These conflicting findings suggest that it’s the type of video game that matters: single-player games that encourage isolation may create more profound loneliness, but multi-player games that encourage communication and collaboration with teammates create connection.
If you’re not sure what effect video games might be having on your child’s sense of connection with other peers, find out what games they play and ask them questions to discover whether they’re feeling lonely.
Problems With Physical Health
Kids need to stay active, whether swimming in the neighborhood pool or joining the cross country team. At least some mild or moderate physical activity level is necessary for a child’s physical growth and health.
Kids who play video games often prefer to spend their time indoors and generally get less physical activity. They might eat unhealthy snacks or drinks while getting little to no activity, leading to weight gain and poor nutrition.
Getting quality hours of rest is very important for a child’s development, but researchers have found that excessive video gaming can lead to issues with sleeping. Part of this is because of light disturbances from screens that make it difficult to fall asleep, and part of it is because kids will often deny sleep to keep playing (even though you told them to go to bed, they may have sneaked in another round or two).
The study mentioned above also found that kids who reject sleep regularly are much more likely to be lonely. And another study found that playing video games for more than one hour can be detrimental to a child’s sleep quality.
A few things are causing this sleep disturbance:
- Screen exposure
- Physiological arousal of the central nervous system
- Artificial light sources
- A desire to stay up later, compromising sleep
Children between the ages of 6 to 12 need about 9 to 12 hours of sleep, and teenagers aged 13 to 18 need 8 to 10 hours. If video games are getting in the way of a child getting the recommended amount of sleep, they might run into behavioral problems and school difficulties.
Social And Relational Issues
Children who spend most of their time online or playing video games often have more problems with social skills and relationships. For example, they might choose to play video games instead of playing with their siblings, spending time with friends, or choosing in-person activities.
Excessive video game use can cause problems in school, making it difficult for a child to build connections with their peers and practice social skills. It also decreases their desire to pursue other hobbies, sports, or clubs in which they might interact with other kids their age.
What Can I Do About My Child’s Video Game Addiction?
Don’t worry if you’re concerned about your child’s video game addiction! It’s not too late to help them make better choices. Please encourage your child to pursue new hobbies, spend time with kids their age, and get outside.
Try to enforce stricter time limits on computer or video game consoles to encourage healthier habits moving forward. Please talk with your child or teen to find new ways to engage their mind and body without playing video games, and encourage them to pursue those things.