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Two boys playing online games

Video Games and Kids: Setting Healthy Limits

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Rebbecca Olszak
Published Date: Tuesday, March 10, 2020

By Dr. Rebbecca Olszak, General Booth Pediatrics

Playing video and computer games is ingrained in the culture of today’s young people.

Some video games are educational. They can teach children problem-solving, develop fine motor skills, and improve coordination. They can also be fun!

But some games are violent, showing people or animals being killed, criminal behavior, and sexual exploitation. Some studies have shown children exposed to violent media may become numb to violence and more prone to act aggressively.

So what’s a parent to do? Like so many things, it’s a matter of making sure your child is playing appropriate games in moderation. Too much time toggling video controls can mean less time for school studies and socializing with friends and family. That can lead to poor social skills, fewer hobbies, less exercise, and becoming overweight.

An overabundance of violent video games may also reduce quality sleep and create negative thoughts.

Here are some tips from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Do not allow preschool-aged children to play video games.
  • Identify games that are appropriate in content and level of development. Check out ESRB.org, which places an age and content rating on video games. You can also read reviews on CommonsenseMedia.org to see what other parents are saying about the video game.
  • Play video games with your children to share the experience and discuss the game’s content.
  • Set clear rules about game content and playing time, both in and outside the home.
  • Monitor online interactions and warnings about potential dangers of internet contacts while playing games online.
  • Allow video game playing only in public areas of the home, not in the child’s bedroom.
  • Remember that you are a role model for your children including which video games you play and how long you play them.
  • Enforce total screen time limits.
  • Ensure video games are played after homework and chores are done.
  • Encourage participation in other activities, particularly physical activities and unstructured play.

If you continue to have concerns about your child’s gaming habits or if your child is having difficulty with mood or behavior, talk to your child’s pediatrician or school counselor to help arrange a referral to a trained and qualified mental health professional.



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About CHKD Medical Group

Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.