If I had a £1 for every parent who’s said to me, ‘I don’t know how to get them off their games Sue – it’s just so hard.’ I’d be a rich woman!
I’m being interviewed on BBC Radio Essex tomorrow speaking to a mum whose two kids love to game and spend hours doing it everyday. They also spend some of her money on the game as her credit card was registered to the game account. She’s fed up with them gaming all the time but doesn’t want them to be different from the other kids at school.
But I wonder if she knew the real dangers behind their gaming whether she might feel more confident in saying ‘NO’ more forcefully?
Here’s the research ……
1. Isolationism: Video games isolate children in their bedrooms & these days can be linked to not only other cities, but other countries as well. So as a parent are you happy that you have NO idea who your kids are playing with or talking to? Would you let them go off completely unsupervised with a stranger in a park? I guess not so are you happy that you have NO idea of who is on the other side of that screen & how do you know that they’re not pretending to be a 13 year old but are really a paedophile grooming your 8 year old? They may or may not even reside in the same country as your child.
Video games by their own nature isolate kids from the outside world. These games can also be played alone or ‘first person’ so there is the possibility that there may be NO human interaction at all with other people; and that shows that if your child is playing an inordinate amount of hours by themselves gaming, then this tendency could lead further and further into social isolationism.
Gaming can also become addictive and thus remove your kids from crucial social situations and other interactive human relationships where important skills such as communication are normally developed. If they grow up spending too much time gaming in insolation they may wind up as 21 year-old with only a 11 year-old set of social skill development. Is that OK with you?
Kids need to develop their social skills in the real world not cooped up for hours in a cyber world. Spending their development years in front of a screen doesn’t help them develop interaction skills it merely increases their isolationism & anxiety which leads to depression.
2. Desensitising: Yes, if you watch the news you may believe that we live in a world where conflict may seem like the solution to everything. However that certainly does not mean you have to expose your kids to it for hours upon hours a day, via video games and other media.
When children are exposed to violence day in and day out, they will become desensitised to violence through excessive use of video games that rely upon violence as a key problem-solving component of that game. Is that what you want you kids to become desensitised & lacking in empathy ?
3. Rise in Aggressive Behaviour: The American Psychological Association (or APA) is based in Washington, D.C., and is the largest scientific and professional organisation representing psychology in the United States. APA’s membership includes more than 122,500 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. They did a study in 2015 and found amongst other things that the research demonstrated a consistent relation between violent video game use and an increase in aggressive behaviour, combined with a decrease in social behaviour, empathy and sensitivity to aggression.
They go further to state not every child who plays violent video games excessively will in fact wind up in prison, but it is the accumulation of risk factors that tends to lead to aggressive or violent behaviour that increases that risk.
Have you noticed an increase in your child’s aggressive behaviour?
Then ban the aggressive games – get involved in choosing the games your child plays, you are there to be your child’s guide, protector & parent – NOT their friend. You know better than they do – step up & parent! They’ll get upset, they’ll get annoyed, they’ll complain & whine but who’s in charge in your house – your child who’s immature & unaware of the dangers or you?
Make sure you are doing fun things
together so you spend time together – kick a ball in the garden, ride bikes, go bowling, watch a game of football or eat a meal together regularly, get a take away & watch a film & chat. Stay CONNECTED.
Don’t ban technology completely as that’s just not realistic but monitor it – be a Media Mentor to your kids.
Don’t put your head in the sand,
4. Waste of Time: The Kaiser Family Foundation study shows that kids these days spend an average of seven hours and 38 minutes A DAY on entertainment media. That is more than 53 hours A WEEK!
Just think of what your child could be doing with that time? Just think of the books they could read? The hobbies they could begin and benefit from? The places they can explore? The minutes spent in front of gaming consoles and screens quietly tick by, turning into hours upon hours with nothing to show for most of it. So limiting their time in front of video games can allow more time for your kids to be part of more productive pastimes.
What childhood memories are you creating for your children that they’ll tell your grandchildren ?
5. Weight Gain: Yes, this is one of the less obvious negative effects of spending excessive time playing video games or in front of screens.Kids lose track of time & snack on junk food.
Also children need to be active. They need to burn calories, especially now that 1 in 3 children are obese according to many studies.
I don’t believe in banning gaming- I believe in balance but I am urging you to MANAGE the time your kids are allowed to spend in front of a screen. Balance blocks of time that are reasonable and don’t involve hours upon hours of each day, every day in front of gaming screens. Be wise. Be savvy. Be selective and be in control. You’ll have mentally happier & healthier children with less aggression & more compassion.
Why not ‘Pause To Ponder’ perhaps this weekend and observe how much time your children are spending in front of video games (and especially violent ones) and hopefully you can help them avoid these five negative traits that are frequently associated with spending too much time gaming and in front of screens.
Disable Fortnite in-app purchases
You’ll need to disable all in-app purchases on your kid’s iPhone (or your iPhone, if your family borrows yours to play) to turn them off for Fortnite because iOS doesn’t let you pick and choose on an app-by-app basis. Here’s how:
- Open Settings and go to General > Restrictions and tap Enable Restrictions if they aren’t already on.
- Enter a Restrictions passcode that will prevent your kid from going back into Restrictions and undoing your changes.
- Scroll down and toggle off In-App Purchases.
Thanks to Play Unplugged.