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Understanding Your Child’s Love for Video Games: Finding the Right Balance

Dear Katherine,

A parent expresses concern about their kids’ love for playing video games. The children seem to take genuine pleasure in this activity, and while they’re occupied, the parent has a chance to do household chores and enjoy a little time to themselves.

The parent wonders if there are better hobbies out there—but if the kids like gaming and it gives the parent a bit of space, is that so wrong? They question if they are making a parenting mistake by letting the children play.

Guilty As Charged

Hey there, Guilty As Charged,

First of all, there is nothing to feel guilty about here! Check the shame at the door. Everyone’s human.

Gaming—and screen-time in general—is a sore spot in many parent-child relationships. It’s hard to imagine eliminating these activities because, as mentioned, the kids enjoy playing video games, and the parent enjoys having some space. Not to mention that screen-time has become an undeniable part of children’s social lives.

But of course, “too much” of anything can be a problem.

So what constitutes “too much” in terms of gaming? The answer: It depends.

Rest assured that it’s probably not necessary to put an end to the kids’ gaming. This kind of hobby can have a place in a healthy, well-rounded child’s life. The issue is when it becomes an addiction.

In a webinar with Cam Adair (founder of Game Quitters, the world’s largest support platform), who once struggled with video game addiction, Adair shared his experience. He dropped out of school, lied to his parents about having a job, and eventually experienced suicidal ideation. At the height of his problem, he was gaming 16 hours a day.

The discussion highlighted that one of the risk factors for full-fledged gaming addiction is using video games as a coping mechanism or a means of escape. The amount of time spent gaming matters much less than why they’re gaming in the first place.

Why does my child like video games so much?” is a common question among parents. Often, it’s because video games provide a sense of achievement, excitement, and even social connection. Understanding this can help in managing their gaming habits effectively.

Here’s a good litmus test: If the child is gaming and they are asked to stop—for dinner, homework, or something else—are they capable of easily walking away? If so, there may not be cause for concern.

If they have trouble walking away, there may not be cause for concern either. If they are in the middle of getting to that next level at the very moment they are called, they may just need a few more minutes!

It’s also important to take a holistic view of the kids’ lives outside of gaming.

Are they doing well in school?
Do they have nice friends?
Are they generally kind and happy?
Do they get proper exercise and nutrition?

The answers to those questions will help determine if playing video games is a solution for another problem—or just another activity that brings the children joy.

Do video games affect children’s behavior?” The answer varies, but generally, moderation and balance are key. Ensuring that gaming does not interfere with their daily responsibilities and overall well-being is crucial.

“What to do when your child only wants to play video games?” Start a conversation about their gaming habits and show interest in what they enjoy. Plan family activities that can engage them and set reasonable boundaries without resorting to power struggles.

If there is concern, Game Quitters—Adair’s game addiction support community—is an excellent resource. But first, start a conversation with the kids about their gaming habits. Good old-fashioned quality time and better parent-child communication may be enough to keep them from entering unhealthy territory.

Tell the child that the family wants to spend time together, and be sure to plan activities that excite them. Steer clear of using power and control because that is guaranteed to activate the 3Rs (retaliation, rebellion, and resistance) and generate a resentment flow.

It is hoped this response gave some peace of mind to “Guilty As Charged.” The kids’ love for video games is likely healthy and normal.

Love and Blessings,


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