How to Stop Your Child From Being a Video Game Junkie.

The first thing you have to do to stop your child from being a video game junkie is to determine why your child is spending so much time playing video games.  Once you find out the reasons that your child is playing video games you can work to replace the game-time with something that continues to meet the needs of your child.  Children play video games for different reasons.  The reasons can be social, emotional, reward-based, and psychological.  Gamers are judged and accepted by other players based on their ability to play a game and not by their looks, stature, social skills, or social status.  It is possible for your child to reach a social status in the gaming world that is difficult to obtain in the real world.  Your child can also use video games as a retreat to another place where they do not feel the pressures that they feel when they are not gaming.  Gamers assume different roles which allow them to feel powerful, competent, important, or socially relevant.  The successful completion of a game-level or the annihilation of a gaming foe provides immediate reward and gratification.  Finally, gamers play because they have some level of control over their characters and their gaming world.  In short, playing video games helps your child to satisfy basic human needs. 

To reduced game time find ways to replace the earlier mentioned motivations with activities that can provide the same kind of need fulfillment in your child’s life.  Ferguson and Olson (2012) found that children may play video games not because they are particularly engaged with them, but simply because there seems to be little else for them to do (Ferguson & Olson, 2013).  Boredom is a motivation that you can address by filling your child’s schedule with productive things to do.  You can encourage your child to get a part-time job, play sports, participate in community service projects, discover a hobby, find an acceptable group of friends, or take your child on outings where he or she can participate in productive activities.   In one study, an independent, main effect of the parent–child relationship as a predictor of pathological symptoms of video-gaming was confirmed through the analysis of longitudinal data.  The importance of the parent–child relationship quality cannot be over-emphasized. (Choo, Sim, Liau, Gentile, & Khoo, 2014).  Choo and his group of researchers suggest a two-way mediation plan to contain gaming that involves the child’s input in the development of the plan, instead of a one-way “I’m the parent” do what I say approach.  Another suggestion is that you allow your child to earn game-time by performing responsibilities specified by you.  An example of matched-time is that your child earns an hour of play time for an hour of study time. If the reason your child is gaming excessively is that he or she is stressed you can address the reasons that your child is “stressed” to help reduce the gaming time. 

For the record, I am not suggesting that playing video games is bad for children.  There are many studies that argue both sides of the argument.  Ferguson’s findings suggest that over the four high school years, playing strategic video games may enhance adolescents’ self-reported problem solving skills, which in turn may help adolescents perform better in school (Ferguson & Olson, 2013). Overall, these findings suggest that over the four high school years, playing strategic video games may enhance adolescents’ self-reported problem-solving skills, which in turn may help adolescents perform better in school (Adachi & Willoughby, 2013).  There is the argument that violent games have a negative impact on children behavior.  Other research has identified family influences as central to the relationship between video games, motivation, and behavioral outcomes. For example, Ferguson and Garza (2011) found that children who play violent games along with their parents had the most positive outcomes related to prosocial and civic behaviors in relation to non-gamers or children who played violent games alone (Ferguson & Olson, 2013). The verdict is still out on how violent games impact child behavior.  I think that the use of time is the biggest loss.  If your child is playing video games hours and hours each day something else is being sacrificed.  What could have been done with the time dedicated to playing video games?  Help your child to value the use of their time.  Help your child to see that having a balance between gaming and other aspects of his or her life is important.  If your child has a gaming addiction, you may need to be more proactive in helping your child to overcome the addiction.  Balance gaming can be healthy entertainment for your gamer. 

Adachi, P., & Willoughby, T. (2013). More Than Just Fun and Games: The Longitudinal Relationships Between Strategic Video Games, Self-Reported Problem Solving Skills, and Academic Grades. J Youth Adolescence, 42:1041–1052.

Choo, H., Sim, T., Liau, A., Gentile, D., & Khoo, a. A. (2014). Parental Influences on Pathological Symptoms of Video-Gaming Among Children and Adolescents: A Prospective Study. J Child Fam Stud, 24:1429–1441.

Ferguson, C., & Olson, C. (2013). Friends, fun, frustration and fantasy: Child motivations for video game play. Motiv Emot , 37:154–164.

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