As video games have become more and more immersed within cultures around the world, the frequency with which people of all ages take them up in their leisure time has naturally increased, and children are by no means an exception. However, with this rise of prevalence in mind, one should be aware of just how much time they invest into video games compared to how much time they set aside for both rest and productivity.
But of all age groups, the one that draws the most attention in this regard by far would be that of children. The general consensus of video games has—thankfully—moved past the perception that video games are either mere wastes of time or bad influences on children; that being said, that does not mean that uninhibited play is necessarily all well and good for a child’s development.
To speak to the merits of allowing a child to play video games, a study conducted by the University of Oxford has found that a certain exposure to video games has a positive effect on the lives of children. Encouraging as the results are, the study also found that it is indeed possible to indulge too deeply in this hobby, as these benefits are lost if children play beyond a certain threshold of time. Even more noteworthy is that it was found that if children play long enough on a daily basis, not only do they lose the benefits that are experienced by those are sparing with their playtime, but those who play for extended periods of time suffer the opposite effect: they show less satisfaction with their lives.
Considering study results such as these, managing a child’s exposure to video games seems very much like a balancing act—there are positives to be had by delving into video games, but these positives can easily be lost and even turn into adverse consequences if a child’s playtime is not reigned in properly. For parents who are concerned about just how much screen time their child gets, there are tools available to them that makes moderation a simple and unobtrusive matter.
For the past couple generations of gaming consoles, there has been enough forethought to include the feature of parental controls, allowing parents to adjust how much allotted time their child has to play. With these features available, managing screen time becomes a much more approachable task. There’s no need for setting egg timers and having to barge in to turn off devices while your kids groan in disappointment; with parental controls, the gaming systems manage themselves. The parameters are clear and set in stone—no arguing needed.
With all of this knowledge in hand, it may be tempting to immediately go about setting up the parameters for your child, but there is still something that should be considered before jumping the gun. While there are indeed study results that show that a certain amount of screen time is beneficial and that anything more than that can potentially be harmful, it is very important to bear in mind that there will always be a certain amount of variance in regard to the effect that video games have on children.
The findings of such studies have not discovered immutable laws, rather, they have discovered trends, and while trends do exhibit relevance enough that one should keep them in mind, that does not necessarily mean that what they identify will always be the case. Any given child has the potential to fall on either end of the bell-curve. It’s fully possible that your child has no issue balancing their screen time with their schoolwork and social lives without any supervision; and on the same token, it’s just as possible that they need some guidance to strike a healthy balance.
Ultimately, context is king, and if video games seem to be having an adverse effect on your child, the tools are available to you to help right the situation.