Help! My Child is Addicted to Video Games!
We’re talking video game addiction. For all the good games can do, they can also be misappropriated, and too much is bad. Parents, the fact that you are reading this article means that most of you often have to deal with your kids' unhealthy gaming habits: playing late into the night for too long, neglecting their homework and chores. It's worrying that your children seem idle, sitting all day and night in front of a screen playing useless computer games.
But before we get to the solutions we need to better understand what addiction is...
"What is addiction?" Not a stupid question!
What causes addiction? As social creatures, we crave connection; and when there is no one to connect to, we connect to other things like tv shows, games, drugs, sports...anything really. At times, we live our lives feeling alone, unsupported, unwanted, or unappreciated. Some people live with that feeling everyday. Video game addiction is just like any other addiction; it's caused by lack of human connection.
The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it’s connection. Giving your children a place to belong in this reality, so they don’t have to go off into games, or maybe mixing the two realities, is the path forward. With that, here are FIVE ways you can handle your child's video game addiction.
1. Combine life and games!
Heard of Habitica? It's "Your Life the Role Playing Game". It's a great app to introduce to your child because it combines gaming fun with real life. It's a great way to make or break habits, and keep a to-do list every day - through a format gamers love.
Why is it effective? Instant gratification - which is what makes games addictive in the first place. In Habitica, you collect gold and experience points the moment you check off a habit or to-do. So you feel a sense of progress with the real life skills or habits that are usually slow to build up.
Increasingly immersive game mechanics make better games, but aren't helping video game addiction today! This can have a negative impact on your child's life when the pull to virtual worlds is stronger than the pull to the real world. Your children do understand that daily life is important, but the pull to the virtual world is so strong that it makes it easy for them to pick up neglect as a bad habit. So, instead of fighting it, why don't we find ways to use immersive game mechanics to pull your child back to reality?
2. Get fun, yet educational games for them.
Some games can grow a child's interests. This writer himself bothered learning the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history because of Dynasty Warriors, not school textbooks. How does a game grow interests? Tangential learning. It's about getting them excited to find out more, and as their guardian, you're in the best position to do so! Get them to learn history through a historical game, and get excited to learn it from them!
Or introduce them to Chemistry way before high school by picking up ChemCaper! Kids will learn basic Chemistry while playing our adventure RPG game, and they won't even know they're learning. Turn video game addiction into an addiction to learning instead. If kids love gaming they might as well be learning while they game!
3. Turn Gaming Time into Bonding Time.
Tired of feeling the distance between you and your child? Wishing you can connect with them on some common ground?
Play a console game together, go outside and play Pokémon GO together... You can find countless stories of families brought closer by games, such as this one. If video game addiction is caused by disconnection, then let's connect people using games! Who better to team up and have fun times with than family? Games can help bring siblings closer too. Having companions to play with that are united in your game goals, that you both collaborate and compete with to become better - that’s not something many classrooms have to offer.
4. Teach Your Child the Importance of Balance.
It’s tough to keep a balance between increasingly immersive games and real life, but we also want to acknowledge that games are just games, and it’s up to us to use them well and for everyone’s benefit.
Help your kids lay off excessive hours by helping them follow an activity plan, attending to obligations before settling down for a few hours of gaming. Scheduling time into pieces for everything your kids want to do also teaches them time management and productivity. Everyone could use a change in location for different tasks - maybe having different rooms for study and gaming. It's about choosing a time and place for productivity so the distractions of home don’t get in the way of work.
5. Introduce a Hobby they can Immerse Themselves in.
Children and teens get immersed in things like dance, architecture, art, and even Chemistry. And video game addiction works just like any other obsession. When kids get into something they're passionate about, it'll rivet their attention, and stave off excessive gaming.
We love this story on Shad Martin's blog about why he pays for his daughters' dance classes. As we all know, hobbies teach kids life lessons and people skills. More than that, hobbies give children direction, something to strive for, companionship, and a strong connection to reality - the very things that stave off video game addiction!
Hope this helps parents and teachers deal with video game addiction a little better! If you have any thoughts or questions, please share them with us!
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