Teens & Video Games: Finding a Happy Medium
Video games are a prevalent part of our culture. How do you counteract the effects of video games? The Video Game industry is ringing up around $12 billion in annual sales. In addition, studies have found that teens spend up to 7.5 hours a day glued to some type of screen — be it a video game, tablet, smartphone or television.
In order to help ensure that your teen’s adoration of video games does not take over his or her life, it’s important that parents set some ground rules. While you don’t want to necessarily eliminate them from your child’s life all together, you do want to be sure that there is a level of responsibility and accountability tied to gaming. Excessive use can have effects and to keep the effects of video games to a minimum you need to manage how much and how often your teen is playing games and find a happy medium. Consider these tips:
Talk about Impact – the effects of video games.
Video games are impacting our culture big time! Most of the effects of video games are still unknown. Empowering Parents suggests speaking with your teen when he or she is not holding a controller, and let your teen know, in a calm and non-confrontational way, that you are a bit concerned about the amount of time he or she is playing games. If there are specific issues you are worried about, bring them up in a neutral way. For example: ”Your grades have dropped in English and Math from B’s to low C’s since you started playing ‘Call of Duty.’ I think the two are connected.” Try telling your teen that you understand that video games are a lot of fun, but that you are setting some new rules in regard to their use.
Devise a Plan
While you might want to drastically cut back on how much time your teen spends playing video games, and counteract the effects of video games, it can be more helpful and effective to take a less heavy-handed approach. Instead, let your teen know one new rule regarding the games, and what the positive and negative consequences will be for following it. Start off by telling your teenage gamer something like this: “Starting tomorrow video games will need to be shut off for the night by 8:30. If you are cool about this when I remind you, we’ll stick with this plan. But if your grades keep dropping or you get mouthy with me when it’s time to turn off the games, you’ll lose video game privileges entirely for the next day.”
It’s important to know what types of games your teen is playing. Depending on your comfort level and how mature your child is, you might let him or her play Rated M games like “Halo” and “Grand Theft Auto,” or you might prefer less violent games like “Guitar Hero” or “Madden NFL.” Regardless of what types of games your allow your teen to play, I Keep Safe suggests keeping the video game system in a family room or living room, rather than in your teen’s bedroom.
Playing video games with your teenager can be a great and fun way to spend time together. Depending on which games you are playing, there can be plenty of opportunities for talking, interacting and even problem solving together. As a way to compromise with your teen about video game time, say that a certain amount will be spent with part or all of the family. For example, if you recently purchased your teen one of the new Xbox One game systems, you can look into buying some Kinect games that get everyone up and moving together, or you can find titles that you can enjoy together. These include active fitness games and hands-on games like “Guitar Hero” or “Just Dance.”