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Are games addictive?

if so, how can we identify our children’s addiction and help them to a more healthy relationship with games?

Seeking Opinion Gaming , Child Development , Child Behaviour 3 years ago
Holly Seddon admin
Holly Seddon
Editor-in-chief of
Kent, UK

1 expert has answered

expert answer
Robert Hart-Fletcher expert
Robert Hart-Fletcher Consultant and Developer GB
E-safety expert

Playing video and online games can be a hugely rewarding experience for children and teens. They can learn a great deal about strategy, logic, effective communication with others and it can help their literacy and numeracy and provide an outlet for their creativity.

For 90% of children there is no adverse effect, but some may become more aggressive and some may slip into addictive behaviour. The solution for parents is to get involved. Get down and play with your children. Ask your teens to show you how well they are at playing. If you can, set some time limits and enforce them with rewarding distraction activity. If you really need help, find help online or talk to a psychologist in your area.

Many young people who experience addiction symptoms don’t even realise that their lifestyle might be unhealthy and destructive. What can parers look our for?

  • Addicts may cut out other activities and won’t prioritise being with friends

  • Playing games may take precedence over sleeping, eating, personal hygiene

  • Addicts may be tired and irritable or withdrawn

  • Addicts may be late for, or completely skip school

  • Their school results may be dwindling

It's vital that these young people have parents who are involved and set boundaries.

Parents need to set clear Playing Time limits when children are young. Parents can, at any time, introduce the concept of a ‘Screen Break’. When your children play games, or have friends over playing with them, and you think they have spent enough time on a computer game, you can say, "When this round is over... or in five minutes... it’s time for a screen break”. This means that the TV/PC/Tablet is switched off and the children must do something else. If introduced early, and the pill is sugared with lively and enjoyable alternative activity, your children and their friends will respect it. If the children are older, or the addiction has been going on for a long time, you might need some professional help. You can contact a range of resources: [

Clear advice on which games are suitable for which age group, gives you good ammunition for the conversations with your children. [

Reviews of current popular video and online games and sound practical advice on how to talk with your child about healthy use. [

FamilyLives has several interesting articles on gaming addiction. Their Parentline Helpline on 0808 800 2222 is available 24/7, 365 days a year if you want to discuss video game addiction in more detail.

Psychotherapy - many psychologists specialise in addictive behaviour and can be really helpful. Do a Google search to see who is available in your area.

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Experience 3 years ago

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