Parenting Playbook: Video Games

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — If you have kids or teens at home, then there’s a good chance they enjoy playing video games.

But when does gaming become concerning? While many children play video games without consequences, some may get obsessed, leaving parents worried. For some, gaming is a form of entertainment, but for others the activity has negative consequences.

So when is gaming a cause for concern? Eyewitness News talked to an area psychologist about kids and gaming.

For many kids like the Yoou brothers of Clarks Summit, gaming is one of the many activities they enjoy.

“We let them play for two hours during weekday and four hours on weekends, only after they finish their tasks we give to them,“ parent Tak Yoou said.

Although these boys play in moderation, some kids may become obsessed with gaming. Dr. Lauren Hazzouri is a licensed psychologist and says if kids are gaming, it’s taking them out of real life because of the way video games affect the brain. She says gaming is addictive, much like gambling.

“The research indicates video games get at the pleasure center of the brain and release dopamine. As human beings, whenever we get a hit of dopamine we want more dopamine, it’s the pleasure center of the brain. If kids are playing these video games starting at eight years old, then kids are getting used to getting that hit of dopamine so they’re gonna want to play more and more and more to get it again,” Dr. Hazzouri said.

So when is video gaming a cause for concern?

“Kids become isolated, kids become socially anxious. I’ve had kids who don’t know how to interact in real life in person. They’re socially awkward and need social skills training because most of their social skills come from online doing a gaming device,” Dr. Hazzouri said.

And Dr. Hazzouri says if video gaming gets in the way of normal everyday activities like playing outside with friends, that’s when parents should become concerned.

“There are concerns but with proper guidance and support, we believe our boys will grow up to be good men,” Tak Yoou said.

Here are some guidelines for limiting your child’s gaming:

  • Gaming should only occur after your child completes his or her responsibilities for the day.
  • Put clear limits of your child’s gaming. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests time allotted should be no more than one hour on school days and two hours on non-school days.
  • Determine a realistic consequence for breaking the rules.
  • Make sure you know and approve of which games your child is playing.
  • Have kids earn playing time.

“Anything they want, they have to earn through tokens. They’re definitely going to empty the dishwasher and walk the dog because there’s a new game coming out of Friday. They’re not getting it if they didn’t do those things and take responsibility of being part of this family,” Dr. Hazzour said.

Another tip is apply time limits through your internet provider. Once they’ve reached their allotted time, the internet cuts out. Kids may not like getting cut off mid-game but it’s effective.

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