Internet and (online) games are part of every child’s world. Still, you might be worried or have questions about that gaming? When is a child too much behind a screen? What guidelines are there on this? How do you make sure gaming, especially scary games, doesn’t become a problem?
If your child gets a new game, chances are he or she will want to play with it daily. This does not have to be a reason to panic. But after the initial enthusiasm, the game should be given a place alongside numerous other leisure activities such as contact with peers, hobbies, and sports.
It is important to have a healthy balance between the internet, games, and all other ways of relaxation. This starts as early as toddlerhood.
How often and when
A three-year-old should not let you play for more than 5 minutes at a time. A toddler (4 to 6 years) no longer than 10 minutes at a time.
Even with older children and adolescents, it remains important to limit the time. Agree on a daily time limit. Take into account the time that the child or young person spends in front of a screen next to gaming (internet, homework on PC, TV, etc.).
Try to balance non-screen activities (offline contacts, sports, hobbies, etc.).
Also determine the moments when you can play, for example only after the homework is finished, not just before bedtime,…
Interest in what they play
Gaming isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can be instructive. Children can also hone skills with it. Very young children especially enjoy playing with their parents. This way you make room for interaction (asking questions, encouraging, helping with the game) and the link can also be made with real life (when were you happy, sad, which animal do you like to see).
It is also important to show interest in older children and adolescents. How does the game work? What’s so nice about it? How can you tell how much life force the character has? Talk about ways to keep an eye on time spent to avoid gaming at the expense of anything else.
ALSO READ: 7 Ways ‘Claw Grip’ Gamers Can Stay Healthy
Discuss which games can be played. When looking for games that are suitable for a certain age, the PEGI classification system can be a help.
Having a lot of games is no better. Limit the choice.
Some aspects of certain games make it easier for excessive gaming. This is the case, among other things, with games with the following characteristics:
- the connection with other gamers in an online game
- the endlessness of certain games
- the fact that the gamer can choose his own identity
But your child’s sensitivities can also play a role, such as the need for quick kicks, a tendency to procrastinate, and difficulty with social situations,…
Keeping an eye on things
Keep the computer and game console in the living room. This way you can supervise your child’s gaming behavior. Other devices such as portable game consoles, smartphones, and tablets can also be given a permanent place in the living room.
Time for something else
Help your child organize their time. Teach him or her that gaming can get a healthy place in it. For example, your child may reward themselves with something fun (like a game) when the schoolwork is done.
Encourage your child to make plans with (real life) friends, invite friends (to do other activities together than gaming), and involve children as much as possible in fun things or household activities that you can do together.
Do you feel like gaming might be getting out of hand after all? On our site, we offer gamers a self-test that immediately gives short advice. There is a version for adults and one for minors.
If you have the impression that your child can no longer solve it on his own and that external help is needed, check out some addresses where you can go to play fewer games.