Playing video games can be an enjoyable way to pass the time, especially during the hot summer months. However, there’s no denying that playing video games can be highly addictive, and it can have a negative impact on a person’s daily functioning and relationships. Last year, the World Health Organization officially recognized gaming addiction as a behavioral disorder, and children are more likely to develop gaming disorder as there are 97 percent of teen boys and 83 percent of teenage girls who play games on mobile phones or consoles. Since gaming disorder has been linked to depression, anxiety, and stress, parents should manage their children’s video game usage and help them to have a safe gaming experience. Here’s what you can do to help your child become a responsible gamer.

Pick age-appropriate games for the whole family to play

Gaming with your child can be a fun way for you to bond during the summer vacation months. However, the games that may be right for you may not exactly be appropriate for your little one. To find out if what you’re about to play is a family-friendly game, you can check the game’s ratings on the Entertainment Software Rating Board website. Role playing adventure games such as Pokemon X, Pokemon Gold, and Pokemon Black all have an E rating, which means that they’re suitable for everyone. Meanwhile, games such as Fortnite have a T rating, which means that it’s for teenagers 13 and above, while Call of Duty has an M rating, which means it’s for players 17 and above. Be familiar with the rating system and encourage your kids to play age-appropriate games, or go on the Parental Controls options on their Nintendo Switch, X-box, PlayStation, or PC so you can block certain games by age rating. 

Manage their chat options

Some games such as Fortnite, Clash of Clans, and Second Life allow you to chat with others while gaming. However, gaming chat rooms can be infiltrated by people who are looking to prey on children and teens, so parents should ensure that their kids are adequately protected from these gamers. if you’re not comfortable letting your children talk to strangers, manage or block chat features and remind your little ones to only talk to people that they know. You can also create chat rooms in certain games so you make sure that your kids are only talking to family members, friends, or classmates while playing. 

Set gaming rules

Setting a few gaming rules can help your children be more mindful of their console or mobile phone usage. To make sure that everyone is on the same page, call a family meeting and agree on a set amount of time for playing, the order in which siblings will take turns choosing games, and the like. For starters, agree on an hour of playing in the morning, then perhaps another hour in the afternoon. All the hours in between those times may be spent doing something else such as exercising, doing artwork, or reading. Children should also be reminded to care for their gaming devices and they should tell you if anything seems to be malfunctioning so you can deal with these tech problems and keep them safe while they’re playing. Remind your kids to clean up after playing, and let them have a place where they can store their gaming equipment properly after every use.

Teaching your child to become a responsible gamer allows them to have fun and reduces their risks of developing a gaming addiction. Remember to pick family-friendly games, remind your child to practice safe chatting habits, and make time to do other things other than playing video games so everyone can have a healthy gaming experience during the lazy summer months. 

written by Isabella Lovett