Majority Of Parents Say Teens Spend Too Much Time Gaming Story And More

April 6, 2024

With more and more young people occupying their free time with video games, concerns about too much screen time continue to surface.

Researchers from the University of Michigan explored how the hobby could be affecting teens in other areas of their lives. 

The study revealed that the overwhelming majority of parents — nearly 90 percent — reported that their teens are spending too much time playing video games. Responses indicate that the hobby has become problematic because it often takes kids away from other responsibilities or activities. 

“Although many children believe video games can be good for teens, they also report several negative impacts of prolonged gaming,” said researcher Dr. Gary Freed. “Parents should take a close look at their teen’s gaming behavior and set reasonable limits to reduce harmful impacts on sleep, family and peer relationships, and school performance.” 

Too much time gaming

To understand how much time teens are spending playing video games, the researchers analyzed parent responses to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. 

While 90 percent of parents think that their child is spending too much time playing video games, nearly 45 percent said they tried to actively limit the amount of time per day their child is allowed to play. 

The study revealed that three-quarters of parents suggest other ways for their child to pass the time to moderate the amount of time playing video games. Fourteen percent of respondents went as far as hiding the video game console, accessories, and games as a means of limiting access. 

Parents expressed concern over their child’s video game use when the activity began to interfere with other things, like sleep — which occurred for nearly 45 percent of respondents — or hanging out with friends who don’t play video games — which was an issue for 33 percent of participants. 

In-person interactions matter too

The researchers explained that there are instances where video games can benefit kids, which over 70 percent of parents also agreed with. However, parents need to be strict about how long kids are allowed to play each day, just as kids need to take time away from screens and prioritize in-person interactions. 

“Parents can play an important role by setting clear rules about appropriate content and how much time is too much time spent on video games,” said Dr. Freed. “While many parents see benefits in gaming, the activity should not be at the expense of face-to-face with family, friends, and teachers who play a pivotal role in promoting a teen’s learning and healthy development.” 

Tips For Harlem Parents to Address Excessive Gaming

1. Set Clear Limits: Establish specific guidelines on daily screen time allowances for video games.

2. Encourage Alternative Activities: Suggest diverse activities beyond gaming to promote a balanced lifestyle.

3. Monitor Usage: Keep track of how much time is spent on gaming and intervene when it becomes excessive.

4. Foster In-Person Interactions: Emphasize the importance of face-to-face interactions with family, friends, and teachers.

Encouraging Healthy Gaming Habits:

While recognizing the potential benefits of gaming, parents must ensure that it doesn’t overshadow real-life interactions and responsibilities.

Dr. Freed emphasized the pivotal role of parents in guiding appropriate gaming habits to foster a healthy balance between virtual entertainment and personal development.

Help & Advocy

Parents seeking help or advocacy regarding issues related to their children’s gaming habits can explore various resources and organizations.

Here are some places where parents can go for assistance:

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): The AAP offers guidance on children’s media use, including video games. Parents can access resources, guidelines, and expert advice on setting healthy limits and managing screen time.

Common Sense Media: Common Sense Media provides reviews and recommendations for age-appropriate media, including video games. Parents can find tools to assess gaming content and tips for managing screen time effectively.

National Institute on Media and the Family (NIMF): NIMF offers research-based information on the impact of media, including video games, on children and families. They provide resources for parents looking to navigate gaming issues.

Internet Matters: Internet Matters offers support and advice for parents dealing with various online and digital issues, including excessive gaming. They provide practical tips and tools to promote healthy screen time habits.

Local Parenting Support Groups: Connecting with local parenting groups or organizations can be beneficial. These groups often provide peer support and share practical strategies for managing screen time and addressing gaming concerns.

School Counselors or Psychologists: School counselors or psychologists can offer guidance and resources for parents concerned about the impact of gaming on their child’s behavior or academic performance.

Family Therapists or Counselors: Seeking help from family therapists or counselors specializing in child and adolescent behavior can be valuable for addressing underlying issues related to excessive gaming.

Online Forums and Communities: Participating in online forums or communities focused on parenting and child development can provide insights and support from other parents facing similar challenges.

Government Health Departments: Government health departments often provide resources and information on children’s health and well-being, including guidelines for managing screen time.

Parental Control Apps and Tools: Exploring parental control apps and tools can help parents monitor and manage their child’s screen time and gaming activities effectively.

By reaching out to these resources and organizations, parents can access support, information, and strategies to address concerns related to their children’s gaming habits in a constructive and informed manner.

Photo credit: HWM.

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