Video games are uber-popular with people across the board. Children and adults alike are interested in them; however, teenagers are particularly attracted to them.
Although this situation can be a source of concern for parents, you must be careful not to put all video games in the same basket. Familiprix, in collaboration with Vie de Parents, has written a new article to demystify the good and bad sides of this captivating pastime.
How much screen time can we allow?
The Canadian Paediatric Society has made some recommendations regarding screen time in order to counteract inactivity and encourage young people to prioritize exercise.
For children aged 5 to 17, a maximum of 2 hours per day is recommended.
The beneficial effects of video games
There are more benefits than you think to having your teenager play video games. In fact, they allow your teen to:
- Deepen their knowledge
- Tap into their creativity
- Practice problem solving
- Get a head start on several social issues
- Discover interesting technological tools
- Connect with other teens
- Consider a career in the video game industry
The harmful effects of video games
Without necessarily becoming obsessed with it, it's a good idea to keep an eye on the games that catch your teen's attention.
What to consider
Some game features are designed to sell or make the content addictive. They can therefore cause various problems for young people who do not have the maturity to deal with them.
They encourage, among other things, to:
- Make purchases to advance or obtain more rare content
- Download applications related or not to the game
- View ads in exchange for valuable tools to progress in the game
- Obtain rewards through a lottery system that works exactly like a game of chance
Get informed and genuinely interested in how your teens' favourite games work. This will help you understand how they are used and the risks involved.
Interactions with other players
In many video games, players can communicate with each other—either by chat or by voice.
Your child may come into contact with strangers. As a result, there are risks in terms of the intentions of the people who will come into contact with your child.
However, you should also be aware that online games can lead to very heated, even rude and violent conversations by users who take the game a little too personally.
There are three reasons to have a good conversation if your teen is involved in competitive online gaming.
- Make sure they are not enduring difficult situations caused by cyberbullying.
- Validate that they are not developing violent and disrespectful language.
- Find out if the relationships are safe.
Although there are health risks, rest assured that not all teens find themselves in problematic situations regarding video games. However, caution is advised since regular and prolonged exposure can cause sleep problems, obesity, isolation, academic difficulties or, more seriously, depression, addiction and even suicide.
Solutions for parents
Getting involved and paying attention to screen time can make a difference in your teen's life. There are several ways you can do this:
- Show interest in the video game that fascinates your teenager and let them explain how it works
- Set an example by limiting your screen time
- Set clear rules and boundaries
- Keep video game consoles out of children's bedrooms
- Take some screen-free time with your family before going to sleep
How to establish rules
It's essential to set some limits while being permissive about your teen's playtime. Of course, the key is to talk with your teen and find a balance that works for both parties.
For example, you can set up family meals without screens, plan activities that don't require screens, allow a set number of hours for video games while letting your teen have them at times that are convenient for them, etc. There are ways to empower your teen while still allowing them to trust you.
Signs of addiction
Don't be overly concerned, but look for signs that may alert you to the problem.
For example, if your teenager is obsessed with video games, if the hours spent playing them increase dramatically if there is a loss of interest in other activities they used to enjoy if there is an impact on their relationships and social lives, if they lie about their playing time, or if there are changes in their behaviour, there is good reason to consider they have an issue or an addiction.
Resources are available to help you in your time of need. Ask your healthcare professional about your options.
Healthy screen use can be learned!
Check out our free guide to learn more about healthy screen management at any age.