Kids and video games

5 Ways to Set Healthy Video Game Limits for Your Kids

By Caitlyn VanWagner, LCSW, CCFP, Assistant Director of Program Operations at CASTLE Camden

Video games have come a long way since the days of joysticks and coin-operated arcade machines. You know – the golden age of the 80s and 90s. Today, video games are immersive works of art. They feature enormous open worlds, intricate storylines, breathtaking graphics, and complex mechanics.

Let it be known: there is nothing wrong with playing video games. In fact, studies show that video games can build teamwork skills, boost creativity, reduce stress, and improve problem-solving. Not to mention, after a year of being inside, online gaming allowed our kids to socialize and connect with their friends.

But it's about balance, right? The key is finding that sweet spot so they're not draining away their days glued to the Nintendo Switch. Here are some quick tips to ensure the gamers in your life play responsibly:

  1. But first, homework.

    First and foremost, make sure your child completes their responsibilities before picking up the controller. That means homework, chores, and any other items on the to-do list that take precedence over gaming.

  2. Timing is everything.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests 30-60 minutes of gaming per day on school nights and 2-hours per day during the weekend. Try using that as a starting point and reevaluating based on their behavior.

  3. Talk it out.

    As you begin developing a video game plan, involve your child in the process. Be honest about your reasoning, welcome and consider any input, and come to an agreement together. It will make a huge difference.

  4. Pick up the controller.

    Playing video games with your kids is a great way to bond while showing that you respect and appreciate their hobby. Mario Kart, Mario Party, and any Just Dance game are great picks for game night.

  5. Plan screenless activities.

    It's no secret that we spend way too much time in front of screens. That's why it's important to plan physical, recreational activities for your family. Go for a walk, go on a hike, plan a picnic, enjoy a concert, craft art projects – the options are endless!

Updated February 17, 2022

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