As we all know this is a huge topic. Almost every day there is something on the news about how much time a child spends on video games. Everyone has their own opinions: from the experts to parents to children. Of course if you ask a child he would say he should have unlimited time; experts say a couple of hours a day for children school age and beyond and parents just don’t know. Well, neither do I.
I think think that the question that needs to be answered is why the child spends so much time playing. I guess there are many reasons. We all know that it is used as a babysitter at times and sometimes that may be ok. In many families today both parents work and are not home when the children return from school so again it is something to keep them occupied and when there is no supervision during that time frame this keeps them busy. Sometimes parents are as into the games as the child is and both spend hours playing together.
I guess my concern is when the child retreats into this and Utube and other electronic things as a coping mechanism. I think that sometimes when a child is so stressed out with whatever it is that stresses him out he finds comfort in playing the games. He does not have to think about how he feels about what is weighing on his mind and he is having fun either playing by himself or with others on the internet.
Many parents don’t agree that this is true and is it ok? The answer is no, but what might happen if suddenly it is all taken away from him? I am not sure, but I don’t think it would be good. Children need outlets and ways to express themselves as much as adults do. This may not be the right one, so what should a parent do instead?
First of all try to determine why a child is doing this. Another reason might be because he has no siblings or anyone in the neighborhood to play with so he plays on the internet instead. This is an easy one to solve. Find other things such as sports or other school activities where he has contact with other children or set up and take them to play dates so thaat he has someone to play with. Maybe the child needs attention and time with the parent. Make time to spend with them doing something they like to do.
Sometimes it isn’t that simple. Sometimes the child does not want to admit that he is stressed and unhappy. This is the tough one. Parents need to try to spend time with the child and try to find out what is going on. One of the worst things one can do is to just leave him all alone playing for hours on end. Sit with him. Show some interest and eventually the child will probably begin to talk with you and then you can help him to cope with whatever.
I do think that the wrong thing to do is just refuse to let him play or cut his time down unreasonably. I think he will then withdraw even more. Work with him. Children are not unreasonable or unapproachable, but the parent must take the time to try to find out why and then work on a plan. I think that shaming him or forcing him will just result in more stress. Work together and eventually things will change.