Understanding and Dealing with Gaming Problems: A Q&A with a Therapist
What are practical measures that parents should take to help their children regulate their game-play?
I suppose at this point I should confess it's not something I was able to pull off in raising my own kids, though I really tried to. I was functionally a single parent of three, working full time, and in their early years attending graduate school at nights. My kids were alone with television and their computers far too much. One of the difficulties in present day society is that parents are often exhausted and depleted. I think anxiety and depression in children are increasing. Kids are frequently left alone and under stimulated.
It's easy for depressed and anxious children to withdraw, escape, to become sedentary. They become developmentally stuck. This can happen from too much television viewing as well as excessive video gaming. This needs to be kept in mind when we look at the issue of young people and use of the media, whether we're talking about television, video gaming, or other use of the internet. It's easy to say "parents need to monitor kids and their computer use" but we don't live in an ideal world where this is realistically possible for many families.
I wouldn't presume to set predetermined specific rules about what is appropriate for a given family or individual. This is something that should be evaluated within the context of each individual family. However parents who are invested in doing a good job raising their kids will spend time evaluating when, where, and how much use of various media is good for their kids and what other activities need to be integrated into their lives. If this is monitored from the beginning it's easier to keep things from getting out-of-control as kids get older.
I have noticed that parents who enjoy their children and find activities they can participate in together report more academic success and fewer problems with compulsive behavior of all sorts, but this needs to start in their early years. And I'll repeat myself: parents can play games with their kids in a constructive and positive manner.
It's in the nature of the adolescent to rebel and reject most everything their parents say. If kids have been allowed unlimited access to the media when pre-adolescent, it's very difficult for parents to set limits when they become older. At this point professional help may be the best way to assess ways to turn a negative situation into a more positive one.
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