In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially recognized gaming addiction as a mental health disorder. As a parent, you may feel worried about the behaviors your child experience around online gaming. You may also find it hard to create a healthy gaming balance for your kids. To help you out in this difficult situation, here are 5 tips to help you create a healthy gaming balance for your kids.

  1. Establish Limits

A Mott poll has recently revealed its shocking findings that most parents aren’t aware of the extent of their children’s gaming habits. Parents that know their children are gamers have reported that 54% dedicate three or more hours per day to gaming. Only 13% of gamer parents believe their child spends more time gaming than average, while 78% believe their child plays video games equivalent to that of peers. It is fine to have some level of gaming time and partake in some online gambling games so long as it is done with caution.

The poll also reveals that teen boys are twice as likely to spend their time gaming than girls. Meanwhile, parents of teen boys also admit that their child can spend three or more hours gaming in a given day.

It is important that parents limit screen-based entertainment for their teens to no more than two hours per day. Parents should actively limit their child’s playing time as not doing so may significantly impact other areas of their lives.

In order to successfully impose limitations on gaming, parents should not leave gaming consoles and systems in the bedroom. Most importantly, gaming expectations should be made clear from the start so teens aren’t left in the dark. It is also crucial to remove all tech gadgets from the dinner table. The idea behind controlling gaming habits is ensuring that teens don’t sacrifice schoolwork, spending time with friends, and interacting with family for gaming after school.

*Parents may also choose to hide gaming equipment in an effort to control negative gaming behavior.

  1. Disallow Violent Games

The jury is still out whether violent video games provoke teens to commit real-life violence, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Research has found, however, that teens who play violent games often end up lacking empathy and are more prone to handling weapons than those that don’t. As such, parents should help teens find fun alternatives to violent games.

There are non-violent alternatives to favorite games out there. For example, if a teen loves playing Minecraft, letting them only play creative mode versus survival mode will help reduce exposure to violence. Teens may love fantasy or strategy games filled with violence, but Common Sense Media can help parents find alternatives to these games.

It is crucial that parents are involved in their teen’s gaming behavior, but aren’t restricting to the point of suffocation. For example, parents may wish to see their children while they’re gaming or simply ask about the things they’re exposed to in the game.

About four in ten parents do their best to restrict video game playing. Usually, parents of teens aged between 13 to 15 will check maturity ratings on games to ensure they’re safe for their children.

  1. Know To Look For Signs Of Trouble

Parents need to constantly look for key signs of trouble that their teen is spending too much of their time gaming. Excessive gaming may often impact other areas of a teen’s life such as a lack of interest in other hobbies, less sleep, unfinished homework assignments, and less time spent with friends or family.

It is not uncommon for teens to play video games anywhere from four to eight hours, but this alarming habit often yields plenty of other problems. Apart from the non-stop sedentary nature of gaming, teens may gain weight, academics can suffer, and a lack of sleep may result in unhealthy behavior. It is important as a parent to act quickly at the first signs of trouble. Whether pulling the plug on gaming or asking for professional help, it is necessary to seek assistance in some way.

  1. Gaming With Parents

The ‘can’t beat them then join them’ mentality can do wonders for parent-teen relationships. Some parents may turn gaming into a whole family affair and that does allow a certain sense of control into the environment without becoming overbearing. When adults engage with their children using technology, it becomes a gateway to other interests and forms of communication.

Too much gaming is bad for any one person, but it can seriously impact the life of a teen. Parents should actively seek out ways to make gaming a relationship-building activity versus one that negatively impacts the life of their child. In fact, inviting other friends over for gaming sessions can make it into a social gathering. Many teens develop “online friendships” with gaming buddies, but this may make it hard for them to connect with others in real life. They should have the ability to separate their gaming activity from their friendships. A modern problem is that teens are having trouble communicating their thoughts and feelings as they’re too attuned to online interaction. Physically gaming with friends can help address this widespread issue.

In a hospital setting that treats mental health issues as a result of excessive gaming, virtual reality is employed. By giving teens video games and virtual reality, it teaches them to interact with peers once again.

  1. Create Alternative Solutions

Parents that have participated in a recent gaming study have revealed that they do actively try to limit their teens’ gaming time. From enforcing a time limit to encouraging other healthier hobby alternatives, most parents are aware of what their children are doing.

What many kids don’t understand is that video games are created with hooking people in mind. This means they always give some type of “reward” or “incentive” for spending more time gaming such as cool new weapons or a better score. Many studies and books have been written about the psychology behind gaming, and video game creators take advantage of this. Teens with attention problems or mental disorders are especially at risk for developing excessive gaming habits, which is why parents need to pay attention.

The best way to limit video games is to hone other interests. For some, this may be sports or group activities, and for others, it may be art or computer coding.