Yet again, my son emerged from his bedroom announcing that he was victorious in beating level 5. I glanced up from Netflix and realized that for the last 4 hours, he has been on a video game binge. “I’m such a terrible mother!” Or so I’ve been told.
There have been countless studies on the effects of video games on kids. Some say they make kids violent. Others say they make them smarter or have no effect.
A new two-year long study conducted on 3,554 adolescents (half boys, half girls) tracked their gaming habits. The findings revealed that although these kids played video games for lengthy periods of time each day, the effects were small and insignificant.
While intensively playing video games (up to 8 hours a day) did have a small impact on academics, it was so minimal that the researchers ruled it unnoticeable.
Did you just audibly sigh? Yes, it would seem parents are off the hook! But wait, there’s more.
Timing is more important than quantity
Researchers concluded that parents don’t need to worry so much about hours spent gaming, but rather when those hours are spent. Parents also need to realize that every hour spent in front of a screen is an hour taken away from another, more productive activity.
If your child is playing video games instead of sleeping or doing homework, it is going to harm their grades and their overall well-being. They advised that parents focus on balance and encourage their kids to enjoy a wide variety of activities.
Some kids are more sensitive than others and parents should use their own judgment. If you notice any of these symptoms in your kids, they could have a screen addiction.
- Emotional ups and downs
- Problems focusing
- Difficulty interacting with others
Screen addictions can be serious and can put kids at risk of obesity, eye strain, and long-term behavior issues. It would seem that the recommended 1-3 hours a day of video games is probably pretty sensible.
Anything less and I don’t know if I could survive. Anything more could be harmful to my kids. So, yeah, in this house anyway, the 4-hour video game binge is going to be “Game Over.”