Video Games and Kids: Minimizing Your Child’s Risks

There are many reasons why it is important to limit a child’s use of electronic devices. However, many parents aren’t sure how to go about limiting their child’s screen time – especially when it comes to video games. Parents should be aware of the risks involved when their child plays video games and set rules and restrictions for their safety.

What are the risks of playing too many video games?

The effects of too much screen time associated with playing video games can cause harm to your child and has been linked to the following:

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 Obesity. The more video games your child plays, the greater his or her risk is of becoming overweight. Video games increase the amount of sedentary time in your child’s day that can lead to mindlessly eating – causing weight gain.

Reduced academic performance. Students who spend most of their free time playing video games or viewing TV in their bedroom tend to perform worse on tests than those who don’t have TVs in their bedrooms.

Increased exposure to violence. Too much exposure to violence through media — especially video games — can desensitize children to violence. As a result, children might learn to accept violent behavior as a normal way to solve problems.

Problems sleeping. Too much screen time affects a child’s sleep schedule and, in turn, can cause trouble sleeping. Sleep loss can lead to fatigue, increased snacking and weight gain.

Reduced academic performance. Students who spend most of their free time playing video games or viewing TV in their bedroom tend to perform worse on tests than those who don’t have TVs in their bedrooms.

Increased exposure to violence. Too much exposure to violence through media — especially video games — can desensitize children to violence. As a result, children might learn to accept violent behavior as a normal way to solve problems.

Problems sleeping. Too much screen time affects a child’s sleep schedule and, in turn, can cause trouble sleeping. Sleep loss can lead to fatigue, increased snacking and weight gain.

 

How can I set limits on video games and screen time for my child?

Parents should monitor their children’s video game time and encourage educational or physical activities. Establishing screen time rules, and the consequences of breaking them, can reduce your child risk of suffering health issues.

  1. Model healthy electronic use. It’s important to emulate the behavior you want to see from your kids. Therefore, set a good example for your child by monitoring your own electronic use. Your child will take notice.
  2. Create No Technology zones in your home. It can be helpful to establish zones in your house where you don’t allow technological devices – such as TVs, laptops, or video games. You might also want to designate one day a week or month as a screen-free day for the whole family.
  3. Encourage other activities. A child that spends most of their time in front of a screen may feel at a loss about what to do when they’re unplugged. Encourage your child to become involved with other activities and develop other interests outside of video games. Rather than relying on screen time for entertainment, encourage participation in sports, clubs, volunteer activities or even music.
  4. Don’t allow TV’s, computers, or video games in your child’s bedroom. It’s impossible to monitor a child’s media use if it’s allowed in their bedroom. Children can use hand-held devices late at night which can interfere with sleep. Monitor your child’s screen time by keeping TV’s and computers in a common area of your house.

 

Parents may find it difficult to start limiting their child’s screen time – but it’s worth the effort to keep their child physically and mentally healthy.  Orlando pediatrician Dr. Selsky can help you keep your child healthy. Visit us online or call Family First Pediatrics at 407.335.4760 to make an appointment today.