How much gaming is too much?

Managing child's gaming and screen time
Every parent worries about the amount of time their kids spend gaming and it can be difficult to know what restrictions to put in place. There is no 'one size fits all' when it comes to parenting a gamer, but here are some tips to help you get the best out of their gaming time.
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Does your child spend too much time playing video games? Should you enforce screen time limits, or are "everyone else's parents", who your child is always telling you about, right to allow their kids to police themselves? There is a mountain of contradictory advice about how much screen time children should be allowed. Ultimately, there isn’t enough research to give a definitive answer, but there are helpful recommendations based on what we currently know.

Is my child a gaming addict? When to limit your child's gaming

A lot of established information stresses the importance of sleep and physical activity, especially for young minds and bodies. If you think your child’s gaming is impacting these aspects of life then it may be time to consider implementing a schedule and discussing with your child why a time limit is important.

  • Take note of your child’s attitude towards gaming – do they appear to feel anxious or stressed if they have to be away from their device?
  • Try to find a hobby that can distract them and remind them of other interests.
  • Talk to them about why they’re feeling that way and help them to recognise that their response is unhealthy and can help you both find better solutions.

Elizabeth Milovidov, founder of DigitalParentingCoach.com, explians that limits for online gaming are very necessary because online games are so fun and time can just fly by. "Young children (and indeed adults) would spend an inordinate amount of time online if left to their own devices. Parents and caregivers need to be able to set boundaries for online games – which includes what types of games young children can play and how long they can play them.  Once the time is up, it's up to parents to present an alternative activity,” Elizabeth says. 

 

Establishing healthy gaming habits                              

The word ‘addiction’ is thrown around by most of us on a regular basis when it comes to our child’s gaming habits. But a habit and an addiction are two very different things, and a reluctance to finish a game and sit down for dinner (on its own) is far from a sign of addiction. Kids rarely want to sit down for dinner or do their chores, whether or not a game is waiting for them!

According to the Internet Matters website, gaming addiction involves ‘impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”  

Elizabeth suggests asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is my child physically healthy and sleeping enough?
  • Is my child connecting socially with family and friends (in any form)?
  • Is my child engaged with and achieving in school?
  • Is my child pursuing interests and hobbies (in any form)?
  • Is my child having fun and learning in their use of digital media?

If you have concerns about gaming addiction, the good news is that there are plenty of productive ways you can combat it, such as regulating and promoting a better balance within the home. 

But if addiction is a serious issue for your child then it may be necessary to figure out why and seek help.

Setting time limits on different devices 

There are a lot of different apps to help you set limits on screen time across different devices

Kaspersky Safe Kids 

safe kids app image

This app can be used across laptops, tablets and phones and it allows you to monitor and limit games, social media activity, and offers advice and tips from psychologists. It also allows you to block access to adult websites and games. 

  • Sign in to your My Kaspersky account.
  • Click "Kids" and select your child’s profile
  • Click Applications → Settings and make sure that application monitoring is enabled
  • Click on the child’s device.
  • Scroll to find the game app and select "Restricted to limit the access to the game to set period per day" and "Forbidden to block access to the game."
  • Click Save.

Google's Family Link App

Google family link app logo

This app aims to encourages children to make healthy decisions about their gaming and screen time and includes activity reports about how much screen time they're spending on thier games and apps. 

  • Open up the Family Link app
  • Select your child.
  • Go to the "Daily limit" card and tap Set up or Edit limits.
  • Follow instructions on the screen and set daily limits for your child.

IPhones Screen Time Feature 

IOS-screentime-logo

This feature provides detailed reports about how much time everyone is spending on everything from websites and games, to social media. You can then choose time limits based on what you find. 

To turn on Screen Time on your child’s iPhone:

  • Go to Settings  and then Screen Time.
  • Tap “Turn On Screen Time.”
  • Tap “Continue.”
  • Select “This is My [device]” or “This is My Child's [device].”
  • There are a lot of settings to choose from but the one you’re after will be “App Limits.”

These are just a few but there are many more apps available to help establish screen-time boundaries with your child and plenty of advice for creating a positive online experience