“Does My Child Have a Video Game Addiction?” How to Set Limits Around Video Game Use



Is your child playing video games instead of doing schoolwork? Is he avoiding social situations—and is his behavior worsening as a result of constant gaming? I’ve heard the desperation and concern in the voices of many, many parents whose kids seem to spend all their time playing video games.

As one parent said, “I worry that my son might be addicted. When I shut the game off, he freaks out and goes ballistic! I just don’t know what to do.”

If you’re worried about the amount of time your child spends gaming, you’re not alone. Indeed, it is a frequent topic that we hear about from parents in our Parent Coaching calls.

What’s more, in 2010 the Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed 2,000 children ages 8-18 in 2010 and found children’s screen time totals an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes per day. Do the math: that’s more than 53 hours per week in front of a screen—more than a full-time job!

But understand that even if your child is playing a lot of games and gets angry when you set limits, it doesn’t mean he has an addiction. In fact, while there is much buzz about “video game addiction” these days, it’s not yet recognized as a true disorder by the American Psychiatric Association.

Offer for FREE Empowering Parents Personal Parenting Plan

In this article I discuss how you can set some limits on your child’s gaming. I also give you some simple guidelines to help figure out whether or not your child’s video game use could become pathological—or in other words, unhealthy or addiction-like. Finally, I’m also going to reveal some well-kept secrets your kids don’t want you to know about their game systems. You’re going to love it, although your kids may not!

When Video Game Use Crosses the Line

As a parent of a child who plays video games, computer games, or games on handheld devices like cell phones, it’s important to take a look at your child’s overall functioning at home, at school, in their social circle and their mental or psychological functioning. First, let’s take a moment to consider some positives about video games: Some games are educational, some promote physical activity, and when played with others games can help children develop the skills of sharing and cooperation. Video games can also foster resilience and they can even help to strengthen children’s problem-solving skills and patience in challenging situations.

Now I know there are many of you out there who are really struggling with your kids’ video game use and see no positives in it whatsoever. This is a really tough place to be. Video game designers create the games to be highly engaging and to make the user want to keep playing. Children especially can have a very hard time stopping once they get stuck in the positive feedback loops (or reward cycles) these games create. Here are some things to look for that might mean your child’s video game use is becoming unhealthy:

  • Your child’s life seems to be dominated by video games. They seem to be his only motivator and occupy the majority of his thinking. He talks non-stop about video games when he’s not playing them and spends a lot of time learning about them or planning his next opportunity to play.
  • Your child’s social interactions inside and outside of the home have been negatively impacted—friendships seem to have dwindled, your child has withdrawn from social activities he used to enjoy, and family relationships are strained or suffering because of your child’s video game use.
  • Your child’s grades are failing or his hygiene is chronically neglected because of his video game use.
  • Stopping video games for any reason has a long-lasting negative impact on your child’s emotions. He becomes depressed, moody, angry, aggressive or violent when he is unable to play.
  • Your child has stolen video games from stores or friends, or stolen money from others in order to buy video games, more than once. He frequently lies about how much time he spends playing video games.

So what can you do to limit your child’s video game playing and create healthy boundaries around it? For some of you, this will be more challenging than for others. Some kids are much more deeply involved with video games and setting limits in these cases will be harder.

Advertisement for Empowering Parents Total Transformation Online Package

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Determine If You Need More Support

If most of the above examples sound like your child, or if your child becomes destructive, aggressive, threatening or violent when you try to enforce or set limits on their gaming, it might be helpful for you to talk to someone in your area who can work directly with you and your child as you make changes. This might mean talking to your child’s pediatrician or working with a local therapist to determine what kinds of changes are appropriate, how to respond to negative behavior, and how to effectively enforce  your limits with your child.

2. Start Off Slowly

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting video games to one hour per day.  And while it can be tempting to dramatically cut back your child’s access to games, or want to remove them from your home altogether, it might be more helpful to start off slowly. Let your child know you are starting to question whether video games have a place in your home because they seem to cause a lot of problems. Offer a couple specific examples, such as “When I tell you it’s time to turn them off, you use abusive language. And, your grades have gone from B’s and C’s to D’s and F’s since you started playing _______.” Let your child know that instead of getting rid of the games right now, you’re going to try a new rule first—and that their ability to follow that rule or not will help you determine if the games stay.

3. Be Specific

Let your child know what guidelines you are going to be using to determine if video games are working out or not. James Lehman talks about four questions you can use to assess a new limit in your home:

  • What will we see if this is working?
  • What will we do if this is working?
  • What will we see if this is not working?
  • What will we do if this is not working?

You’ll want to actually go over these questions and answers with your child. For example, you might say, “From now on the video games need to be turned off by 8 pm. If this is working, I’ll see you turning them off by 8 without being abusive, and your grades might even get better in school. If this happens, we’ll keep it going. If this doesn’t work, I’ll see you putting up a fight at 8 pm and continuing to play later than that. If that happens, you’ll lose your game privileges for the next day.”

4. Problem Solve

Work together with your child to find a new technique he can use to try to shut down the video games in a much more timely fashion. For example, maybe you discuss the idea of your child avoiding certain more engaging games at certain times, or set up a reward system for turning the game off when a timer goes off. Also consider how your child can cope with the unpleasant feelings caused by stopping the game, or discuss what other fun activities he can do if he’s bored. Talk these things over with your child to help him be successful.

5. Be Empowered

Let’s face it: the user menus on these games are often not very easy to use. But, I found that most of these companies have websites with instructions for setting up parental controls. And get ready for this, parents: did you know that Xbox is equipped with a family timer? You can program the console to shut itself off after the allotted gaming time has been used up for the day!

Here are some links to some websites for more information about parental controls. If you find the instructions on the web hard to understand, call the company’s customer support phone number for more assistance. If you’re dealing with an Apple product, stop in to your local Apple store for support.

Antisocial—and in the Basement

We’ve already talked a lot about setting up some clear structure for your kids—limiting their time on games or having a clear off-time, with some logical consequences or rewards. Some parents also find it helpful to establish regular “family time” during which you do something as a family and there are short-term consequences for not participating. You could also require your child to participate in some sort of group activity once per week, such as a sport, club, or youth group.

The key here is to let your child choose the activity. Until they choose an activity, you might restrict their game use on the weekends to encourage time with friends. Once they choose and begin an activity, let them know they don’t get any access to video games at all that day if they don’t attend a scheduled practice or meeting.

Perhaps the trickiest thing of all is that there is no cookie-cutter formula to determine how much video game time is too much, or what limits and consequences are appropriate for your child. Every child is different. Some children are able to shift into a different activity more easily, while others are more vulnerable targets for the highly rewarding design of the games. In the end you just have to trust your gut and go with what feels right for your family.

For more information please visit:



Related Content:
Am I Being Too Strict? How to Safely Give Your Child More Freedom
Setting Limits with Difficult Kids: How to Get Them to Listen

Empowering Parents Podcast:
Apple, Spotify


Sara Bean, M.Ed. is a certified school counselor and former Empowering Parents Parent Coach with over 10 years of experience working with children and families. She is also a proud mom.

Comments (36)
  • Dad of 13 year old with issues

    This article is so helpful, as EP has been on so many other issues we have in our family.

    I have another thought, after researching dopamine more (I'm an amateur of course). It seems like most of our "fights" center around video screens - phone, computer, and certain TV content (anime and highly dramatic shows), and he's a different person after he's been "on" for more than 15 minutes. The trouble is getting him off in 30 minutes (he gets worse with more time). He changes, like an addict under the influence of a drug. He is unreachable at that point, denying what he did and said - cussed like a sailor, physically abusive, etc. He will do and say ANYTHING to deny his bad behavior and "get us back" at the time.

    He is back to his usual, happy self by the next morning. It is frustrating that he is so unreachable when he needs to be disciplined at the time, but it is so unnecessary the next day when the dopamine overload is out of his system. We would be disciplining two different children, it seems: the "naughty" one while he's unreachable and the "well behaved" one too late.

    We are going to zero screen time now; I thought we could de-sensitize him with 30 minute time limits but it's notworking. 30 minutes of TV has been our "motivator" this year so it's difficult to replace but we must.

    I am also concerned more now about all the other "outside" influences that attack the dopamine reward centers like drugs, sex, peer pressure, and whatever else is fighting to control our child these days (advertising!). He seems VERY susceptible.

    My own drugs of choice were sports and later academic achievement, eventually replaced by a successful business, which, by the way, became an unhealthy obsession that continues today 40 years later. Right now I just want him to have a reasonable chance to make good choices before all the real pressure of being an adult begins.

    We will continue with EP's program, it might be time to renew our subscription!

  • Mike
    Wow, I knew this was a huge problem but didn't know our issues with violent outbursts were so common. I was gratified to see we were working the recommend process here correctly with our 13yo, but we haven't gotten past #3 because #2 is NOT working yet. We'll give itMore at least 3-6 months before trying it again. He is sickened by his behavior in retrospect and doesn't even want the gaming for now. He does admit the problem but it is still beyond him. I worry he may be susceptible to addictions and feel it is very close to one.
  • Likefatherlikeson


    I have an 11-year-old son who fits the bill of every other kid talked about here in terms of his interest in video games. He is allowed around 30 minutes on Wednesdays, 45 minutes Fridays, and an hour-and-a-half over the weekend. This limit is a compromise between myself and their dad, who happends to- in my opinion- have a screen fetish himself.

    My question/struggle/whathaveyou is more to do with my husband. His platform of choice is his ipad. An avid reader, most reading is on his ipad; but temptation runs thick when the internet is a click away. He always has his phone running a game even when he isn’t actively using it. Naturally then, my kids want to look, and ask questions relating to a game they all play (on their ipads). My husband has always been this way; the kids see him have no other “hobby” but this.

    My question- my 11/y/o has ADHD tendencies,, losing his mind when he loses. Honestly I think it would better with no ipads; both kids do actually. My husband will correct them when they get upset, but while facing his own ipad. How in the heck am I supposed to govern and teach about alternatives to electronic time when my husband is, in my opinion, addicted to screens himself? he cannot go five minutes of, say, waiting for me to use the bathroom while we are at a restaurant on a date without pulling out his phone to play pokemon go or some other such thing. I have brought it up in some ways that that is all I perceive, and h comes back with- this is how I am. It makes it so hard in this day in age.

  • PushedToTheLimit
    My son is 10 with a PLETHORA of mental issues because his biological mother consumed alcohol and drugs while pregnant...That's hard enough to deal with. His comprehension for school work is 3 grades behind, he lies about school and homework...the list goes on and on. When it comes to videoMore games, he CANNOT play them without long lasting outbursts of anger. Throwing things, yelling, punching himself....that list goes on and on as well. Dad doesn't support the research I've done when it comes to all of the challenges that my son has. I've out in LONG hours to get as much information as I can to help, but Dad says that I'm being controlling because I only allow my son 2 hours of game time per week (an he has to earn it). Yesterday, he went to the neighbor's house to play games. He came home angry because the neighbor went to the store (with her kids) and washed her car... He was forcing himself to cry and having a total fit. I ignored it for awhile because he will tell you himself that he does it for attention. About 15 minutes later, I told him to take a shower and brush his teeth....You would've thought I told him to go cut the grass with a pair of scissors. He flipped completely out. I remained calm until he raised his hands to me. At that point, I grabbed his wrists to keep him from hitting me (he's tried to stab me with a pencil and balls up his fist at me whenever he's mad). Dad doesn't "wanna hear about it" but these issues happen when Dad isn't home...ESPECIALLY when Dad allows him to play video games, get amped up and angry and then Dad goes to work....leaving me with a kid who is completely uncooperative, disrespectful and violent. I'm considering leaving both of them because I can't take any more abuse from either of them.
  • AngryParent
    I am an angry parent.
  • PaisaKillz44
    Thank's RebeccaW_ParentalSupport ! i'll think about calling maybe today i don't know.
  • Hlh2017
    I need help! All my son wants to do is play video games allll day and night..he doesn't want to go anywhere with the family putt do Anything. When he does leave the house he never feels well and is ready to come home. I cannot punish him.he won't listenMore to me..tells me to leave him alone.gets violent! It's to the point where I'm scared of my own child its been this way before video games though he's very defiant..he gets away with Everything because he over rules me and I don't have anyone to back me up or help me. His dad is not in his life.. He sees a Phyciatrist and therapist but they haven't even seem to help me.. I'm so lost and just don't know what to do..he's even gaining weight because he won't leave the computer chair.. Anyone know of any support groups or programs for defiant children.I'm in alabama..
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Hlh2017 I hear how much you are struggling with your son’s behavior right now, and I’m glad that you are reaching out for support both here as well as in your community.  It is concerning that your son is becoming violent with you when you try to enforce limits onMore video games.  I encourage you to focus on addressing this behavior along with his therapist.  You might find additional helpful information in our article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/when-kids-get-violent-theres-no-excuse-for-abuse/.  If you are looking for additional supports in your community, such as support groups or programs, you can try contacting http://www.211connectsalabama.org/ through their website, or by calling 211 or 1-888-421-1266 from your phone.  I recognize how hard this must be for you right now, and I wish you all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • PaisaKillz44
    I play video games alot and i want to change but it is hard because its fun but i get mad cause i get only one hour of video games and thats a little one hout in the morning one hour in the afternoon and then i use my phone.IsMore that good or bad.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      PaisaKillz44 We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and sharing your experiences. I hear how much you want to change, and how difficult that can be.  Because we are a website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, we are limited in the advice and suggestions we canMore give to those outside of a direct parenting role.  Another resource which might be more useful to you is the Boys Town National Hotline, which you can reach by calling 1-800-448-3000, 24/7. They have trained counselors who talk with kids, teens and young adults everyday about issues they are facing, and they can help you to look at your options and come up with a plan.  They also have options to communicate via text, email, and live chat which you can find on their website, http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/ We wish you the best going forward. Take care.
  • Madysunbob
    Another idea might be redirecting their focus into educational games. It is so natural for kids to want to play online. Things have become so technological. So as a way to embrace their love of gaming, redirect it to something positive for them. I know my kids love turtlediary.com butMore there are so many other sites out there too. Find some good ones and I'm sure there will be a site that they fall in love with.
  • concernedforcarmen

    Hello everyone. I have a bit of a different problem that I need some advice on. My boyfriends 15yr old daughter is a recluse in every way. From an early age she liked video games, of course. From the moment she wakes up til she is told to go to bed, she is playing her games. She does nothing else. Not even looking after herself. From what Ive been told from her father, this is how she spends evety day at home with her mom. Wrapped up in her little world. What I cant believe is that her Mom allows this. Not only allows it but buys her every gaming system or game she wants. Just so she is not bothering her. Ive raised 3 daughters of my own and it just kills me to see this poor girl being shut out of living. My boyfriend, her father sees her once every 5 to 6 weeks and a week or two over Christmas and summers. Hes afraid to do anything about it for fear she wont want to see him anymore. Ive seen her over the last 6 years and she is becoming worse. She has no idea how to converse with people. She rarely speaks and when she does its usually nonsense. She has very basic manners and has no clue how to interact with people or even be in the presence of people. She only eats cereal, chicken fingers, hamburgers or ichiban noodle soup and its made for her. I feel so horrible for her. Shes not getting a chance to be a child and learn basic skills. Apparently her school grades are ok but he doesnt know for sure. She has no friends what so ever and is often bullied. The school she attends keeps her with another boy who is autistic. She is not on the spectrum but Im assuming they are paired together because of similiar social skills. I cant help but to think this is aduse. What should I do? Or should I do anything and just mind my own business? The mother and father dont communicate very well. But this poor young girl needs help.

    Any advice is appreciated.

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I hear how

      concerned you are about your boyfriend’s daughter, and want to help her. 

      The most effective way to do this will be to talk with your boyfriend, and take

      his lead.  Ultimately, as her biological parent, it is his responsibility

      to communicate rules and expectations to his daughter, and it’s your role to

      support him when he enforces those rules when she is staying with him. 

      There’s not a lot that either of you can do about the way that her mom chooses

      to parent or interact with her.  You might find it helpful to review our

      article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-blended-family-wont-blend-help-part-i-how-you-and-your-spouse-can-get-on-the-same-page/.  Please be sure to check back and let us know how

      things are going.  Take care.

  • Lily61404
    I find it extreamly offensive that only "he" was used as an example amplying that only boys and men are addicted.
  • Time will tell

    This website is great. I used it before I discovered that video gaming and internet was what was holding my young adult son back in life.

    As he is in denial that gaming is a problem, he does not do anything about it it and thinks he has mental problems. Well they have gotten worse the more he games and the older he gets.  He was moderated by us as a child, but now he is an adult has to figure out life for himself learning from the consequences of his actions. As parent, all we can do is stop enabling them and make sure they do many real life activities and promote social intereaction while they are still minors. If they are obsessed by gaming, shy and find no joy in doing other things, I would recommend you ban gaming in your home. Online friends do not count as social interaction. They are probably just other addicts.

  • Drake Elliott Fitness

    I too once had a bout with video game obsession when I was in my teen years. Things quickly got out of hand when extra weight started creeping up on me. Before I knew it I had become Obese. Now being a Certified Fitness Trainer I realized that my constant game playing was maintained by natural habit formations. As humans when we do things a certain amount of times out body's central nervous system adapts to whatever actions that we are doing to continue to be able to survive and keep the action going. Obviously, it is really hard to break a "bad" habit so I found that the most successful way was to introduce a "good habit". i.e. exercise. Before I started exercising I had pretty low self esteem about my body and knew in the back of my mind that I didn't look the way that I wanted. Think about it...even when playing with video game characters there is a reminder of what the ideal male or female should look like (of coarse it's exaggerated on games), wolverine, superman, batman, spiderman, they're all ripped! Finally, I started getting more and more engulfed with the progress that I was making in the real world with my weight and slowly I started dwindling down my game play times. For all the parents out there.....know this... Puberty will trump the obsession. What I mean by that is teen guys always want to go for the "cute" girls in school and want to impress their peers some kind of way. Let's be real they are still finding themselves in this period of life. The testosterone being a male starts to raging and most of the time if the male can change their appearance for the better for the opposite sex they will do that. With all this being said, these days I sat down and designed a program that holds the gamer's playing times accountable with exercises to do for the total amount of gameplay time to diffuse the unhealthy side effects that little activity can have on the gamer. The key thing is that I am not limiting the gamer but holding them accountable and they stay on track due to the reward system I have set up...(I give one member out of their gaming circle a free game). So out of say... 5 members of the gaming circle one of them will receive the reward but they all will get healthier and develop a positive lifestyle habit in the pursuit of the game. Parents have loved my program so far and have had success with it. I won't link my website or advertise here but I will give my name Drake Elliott Fitness

    Have A Great Day

  • Pishkoj
    "Its all about the Game". Speaking from a gamers perspective I will say that gaming, especially Competitive gaming is really Fun. It's better than anything in the whole wide world. You may think this is stupid, or think i'm crazy but video games are like traditonal sports such as basketballMore and football. In orde to be great at the specific game you play you have to play on hours on end. Just like you have to practice football plays or basketball layups at a practice. It's not addiction its wanting to be better than the next person. That is called being competitive just like in any other sport.
    • Beth

      Okay sort of feels like your sticking up for the video game only.

      I would say please re-read what your commenting on here in this discussion. It's not that anyone here is knocking the game itself. Their not saying that it's not like a sport, that it's not fun, and that you can't learn anything from a game. Common sense says to be better at something you have to put in tbe practice and work to achieve things. Everyone knows this already.

      If it's your hobby that's cool and I can totally understand your way of describing gameplay. I use to play gears of war online back in the day and for hours on end. Yes they can be fun. But, there is also boundaries between the game and the real world.

      Its learning to separate the two is what seems to be the problem here. Kids spending way to much time on the game and refusing to live in the real life. Kids are.senfing more and more time on the game to the point it's affecting their social skills. It's affecting them studying and their homework. Then when these kids are told to get off the game and go to bed they want to throw a fit.

      It's teaching a kid that there needs to be a certain amount of the time on the game and then some time spent in reality. As harsh as reality and unhappy as it can be at times. I'm sorry but a person has to experience those sometimes hard times. Because, if they don't they will never understand the way real life works. In a game you die and spawn back. In reality respawning doesn't exist. That's an obvious remark I just made.

      Basically, a game can make things seem perfect and unrealistic. That's its job to do to tell a fake story and to make things seem great. As I see it's being done well. As these games get more and more advanced it's going to trap these kids from experiencing real life.

      It's giving a misrepresentation of how real life is. It's total fiction. It's okay to have a couple hours to clear your mind and play a game for a bit but, when a child consumes their total day with the game. The outcome is slipping grades, their hygiene isn't getting taken care of, behavioral issues can pop up, and the child can lack social interactions, lack common sense, and the ability to make real choices concerning their future.

      The next time someone say knocks on the dang door and the kids answers. The kid won't even realize who's at the door and doesn't pay attention to their surroundings. Instead the kid is like hey some guys at the door he wants something idk what but he here's and I don't understand what he wants. The kid answering the door will is in to big of a hurry to rush back on the game. All while leaving the mailman standing there on the porch. Here the parent comes into the living room like what, who, and huh? As we go check the door it's the mailman. He needed me to sign for a letter. The lack of taking the time and check your surroundings and pay attention is gone!!! All gone.!!!!!

      The game I have noticed tends to fry some brain activiy. It doesn't teach real life tools. If anything games are showing and unrealistic and biased outlook on life. The game gives a person endless amounts of lives they don't die. People can be shot and yet they come back to life. The game shows an untraditional idea of people and how they should look. Most games are one race or some sort of alien character, which is a highly toxic point of view.

      I have always used this example my son's so not his game I would be laying dead on the floor in my room days before he would get off the game to even notice where I was. That's fact! This game addiction and outcome is getting to be a serious problem.

  • Hopeful Auntie

    Part 4

    Now, before you make the suggestion that my husband and me adopt my nephew (smiling) let me say that we have thought about and talked about it. My husband and I both have very demanding jobs. I'm in marketing and travel a lot and my husband is the director of operations for a well-known company. Time is precious in our household. We spend as much time as we can with our nephews but it’s hard to manage them when they live over an hour away. And honestly I'm very concerned about the gaming but I'm more concern about my nephew's low self-esteem. He constantly compares himself to his freind up the street. He has told me on several occasions "He's better than me because he got better games, a newer system and more money. than me. Why can't I get a new game? Why can't I go where I want to go? He has parents that love him. Why can't I."

    B.L.U.F (Bottom line up front) I'm asking for some guidance on this one please... I think in a different environment he would excel but what do you do when that’s not a possibility?  Sincerest thanks for your time and feedback. 

    Encouraging Auntie

    • Time will tell

      @Hopeful Auntie 

      The best thing you can give your nephews are your time, conversation and love and keep challenging their  self negative put downs. 

      Encourage them to plan projects and achieve them; then plenty of praise. Tell them that you are so happy that he is your nephew and not his neighbour. Perhaps you can stimluate his sense of self worth by together helping others less fortunate than he is ..for example doing something that contributes to a charity for children who are less fortunate. The more social situations you can get him into, the better. Get him to chose products and interact with people  in stores, such as local bakery. Keep returning so that he can become used to building a confident relationship with storekeepers etc.

  • Hopeful Auntie

    Part 3

    My nephew is very envious of his friend because of the lifestyle the neighbor boy potrays. Per my nephew, his friend comes from a two parent home. Both parents have great jobs and hs friend gets whatever he ask. And to the best of our knowledge all of that is true. I try to encourage my nephew and remind him that things are not always as it seems. I remind him of the blessing he has, such as a family that cares for him. A roof over his head, clothes on his back, food in his mouth. He has many people in the community that look out for him and encourage him. Not to mention the time, money and love that his step uncle (my husband) and myself give. I remind him of his visits at our house... We do puzzles together, read books, ride bikes, go hiking etc. He's fortunate because he's exposed to kids his age, that plays with that does not think about gaming 24/7. Now grant it, my husband and I provide a different environment than he is exposed to at home but we do allow him to play games. The difference is we limit the time and games he can play. He only plays games on our cell phones. We do not own any video games or consoles. We purposely do not have any gaming systems because we believe and encourage education, creativity and fitness.

  • Hopeful Auntie

    Part 2

    As stated before, my nephew has a friend that lives up the street. (The boy he stole from) This kid is arrogant and mean to him. He calls him stupid and poor. He talks about his clothes, his hair, you name it. He tells my nephew about how much money his family has and the job that his parents do. (The neighbor boy was mean prior to my nephew stealing from him) My nephew tolerates it because he love to play the neighbor boy's XBOX 360 and the neighbor's parents have no cap about the amount of time they spend playing it. My nephew has a PlayStation 2. It barely works. So he is constantly sneaking down to the boy's house.

  • Hopeful Auntie

    Greetings friends,

    I have a nephew whom I believe is addicted to gaming. He's 11 years old, lives

    with a mother who works all the time and 2 little brothers (1year old and 7 years

    old). Due to his mother's work schedule, he spends the majority of his time at

    our grandparents' house. His grades are failing. He's been recycled once

    already. He sneaks and order games via computer and cell phones.  He's loud

    and disrespectful when instructed to put the games away. He sneaks out of

    the house to go his friend’s house up the street. He stole a game from

    the same friend. Now I know I’m painting an unpleasant picture of my nephew but

    he really is a good kid. He's just in a tough situation. My grandmother has Alzheimer.

    My Grandfather sleeps all the time and we have an alcoholic uncle that refuses

    to leave my grandparents’ house. When my uncle is not in jail he’s drinking religiously. And boy is he a mean drunk. He can get downright abusive when he's had

    one too many. My grandparents are enablers. I  put my uncle out and my

    grandparents let him move right back in. (Shaking my head) So yeah I believe my

    nephew deserves a little grace and leniency. He endures a lot.

    Too be continued...

  • Mary


    I found this post because although my husband and I have and always have had very strict video game/tv rules, my 7 year old son seems overly preoccupied with video games. He is only allowed to play 2 hours on Saturday and 2 hours on Sunday with an hour or more break in between so that it's not continuous. If we have something planned for a weekend day and he won't get his 2 hours, we don't make it up later, he just doesn't get to play that day. Absolutely no video games during the week.

    However about 95% of what he talks about is video games, Mario, princess peach, the wii u, the wii, "when daddy beat this part of the game for me", etc etc etc. It is driving us absolutely insane. I am very affirming with him and listen to what he has to say and give him feedback but I honestly could care less and I'm concerned about his obsession. I don't know what to do to get him to talk about other things. I have him read lots of books and we will have a family movie night. We also spend a lot of time outside and at the park, but for some reason he still talks like he is addicted. I don't want to completely get rid of our wii because I know he and my other son love it and enjoy it so much when they do get to play but I feel like his obsession is getting out of hand. He even dreams about Mario etc. Should I seek outside help for him?

    • Time will tell
      @Mary If he is doing well at school and has good friendships and fit's in, do not be overly concerned. If he is anxious and very bright he is more at risk of using games to escape his problems and it to be become an addiction later in life.
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      I can hear the concern you have for your son and the fear he

      may be addicted to video games. From what you have written, it sounds like he’s

      following the limits you have put in place and he does a good job following

      those limits, even on days when he doesn’t get to play his allotted time

      because other things take precedence.  It also sounds like he is willing

      to do other activities outside of playing video games. Your son may simply be

      talking to you about something he really enjoys. It’s not uncommon for kids to

      be fixated at times on things they enjoy. If you are concerned his fixation is

      beyond what would be expected for his age, you could make an appointment with

      his pediatrician or primary care provider. He or she would be able to answer

      any question you may have in regards to what would be considered normal for

      your son’s age and would also be able to determine if outside help is

      warranted. We appreciate you writing in and wish you all the best moving

      forward. Take care.

    • mxc8050
      @Mary  I am a gamer myself and a student in college studying for a Game Design degree. I know what it is like to get wrapped up in a game especially if you get invested in the story and the characters. In that way they can be very much likeMore a good book. When I was younger my parents also gave me limits on how much I could play. I could play 2 hours on Saturday and Sunday and an hour and a half on weekdays. That may seem like a lot compared to the limits you have now but this caused video games to not be as much of a scarcity. I found that I would hardly ever use all the time and after playing for a while I would want to go outside, read a book, or play a board game. Often times after playing a lot one week I wouldn't play at all for a couple weeks. Limits stop from extra playing but they encourage thinking about what comes next like a cliff hanger in a book. When I was younger and first started playing video games I did talk about them a lot, sometimes I still do. When you first start playing video games are the most interesting thing in the world especially as a kid when your imagination is running wild. Like anything you get excited about you want to tell the people you love about it. You want them to share in your joy. That he is talking about it to you is a good sign and also an attempt to share something he finds special with you. I loved it when my parents would play games with me because it was something that was mine that I could share with them instead of something they had showed to me. As I have grown older I have realized my parents are not gamers, many of my friends are though. It is fun talking to friends about video games, where they are in the game, what games they're playing, etc. At the moment I don't think its something you need to worry about. If he starts shutting you off to play games or looks depressed and distant because he isn't playing that is when you should worry. However often video games are used as an escape and this will often point to some other issue. I can't claim to be a psychologist and I don't know your exact situation.  I may be biased because it is what I am pursuing a career in, but that is what allows me to understand where he is right now.
  • kickem

    The biggest problem with limiting video games is other

    parents. And the kid's music teacher.   And school.

            What I mean by

    this is, I can set limits in my own house, but there are quite a few parents in

    the neighborhood who set few or no limits on their kids' video

    time.   So if we turn off the devices at our house, our son simply

    goes to a neighbor's.   There is always another neighbor whose kids

    are online.   I would have to effectively ground the kid to

    meaningfully limit his hours.   A lot of these parents are nice,

    loving, caring people.   But I think that many parents are overwhelmed

    by the combo punch of long work hours, multiplying devices and media, and

    decreasing outdoor space for kids (at least where we live, near Silicon Valley,

    where a square inch of dirt is more expensive than gold).   In

    addition, the ramifying ways electronics enter kids' lives make it more

    difficult to set any limits.   My kid takes trumpet, a constructive

    activity that gives him something besides video games to do, right?  

    Ah, but increasingly his music teacher gives him the music by an email link to

    a website.   So he opens the computer to start practicing, then wants

    to check to see a video of the song being played, then wants to check another

    video.... each of these distractions is very tempting, and each is only a click

    away.   So it now requires constant parental monitoring - which in

    turn increases parent/adolescent conflict - to keep actually on track,

    practicing music.    The schools have shifted to chromebooks,

    and most of the kids' schoolwork is now on this.   Again, one click,

    and instant, infinite distractioins.   In addition, because of the

    physical structure of a laptop, with the back sticking up and hiding the screen

    instead of open like a traditional print textbook, it is harder for a parent or

    teacher to see what the kid is really looking at.   One click, and

    he's innocently staring at that algebra page again.    I have

    been in a classroom in a very expensive private school with only six kids in a

    class and with a really good, alert teacher in charge of the classroom, where

    the kids were more or less constantly skipping over to youtube, social media,

    etc., without the teacher really being able to monitor it (I only saw what was

    going on b/c I was a guest sitting in the back of the classroom).   I

    think that computer and software companies have done a very slick job of

    selling to schools, in many cases without any solid evidence that all these

    devices and software really improve student performance.    In

    our experience, the computers have been a much worse learning tool than

    traditional textbooks, for the most part.   All of this really

    compounds the problem of setting reasonable limits on video game and other

    electronic media use.   One of my son's teachers solemnly inveighs

    against kids using electronics within an hour or two before bed, but how can we

    do any differently?   All is homework is onscreen now.

          The amount of video games

    etc. that kids are getting now is a serious problem, in my opinion.  

    But devices and access have expanded so rapidly that simple rules like "no

    more than an hour a day in our house" have become almost meaningless

    • Time will tell
      kickem Yes this is sad and troubling for the paretns of kids who find it difficult to moderate screen time. I think we need to tell our teachers and schools about our concerns
    • mxc8050
      kickem As a student currently in college myself I think you are right on the money. Almost all of the work I have received so far has been online. I wish that my professors would give us some book work instead of electronic work. It is easy to get distractedMore and after a while my eyes start to hurt.
      • kickem

        mxc8050 kickem

        Interesting to hear this perspective from a college student,

        since i work mostly with middle and high school kids. It seems to

        me that print books are slowly going the way of the dodo.  And that's a

        real loss.   Educational institutions, at least, should think twice

        about the extent to which they're buying into the "technology is always

        better!" mantra.   Especially when so many teachers i know are

        simultaneously begging parents to limit their kids' screen time.  

        Reading a print book, for example, is a different kind of experience from

        reading online: less bright light in your face, far fewer distractions, more

        relaxing.   I think print book reading helps promote a capacity for

        quiet, sustained concentration that is very valuable, and that you don't fully

        get from downloading the same book onto your device.   Technology has

        plenty of good stuff to offer, of course, and it ain't going away.  

        But like anything, it can be oversold and overused, and i think that is really

        true right now.

  • Steph

    Cleaner Daveson Wow. You make my over-a-decade struggle with my 14-year-old sound like it should have been a breeze.

    A single mom that has tried almost everything.

    • Time will tell

      @Steph Cleaner Daveson  

      My son, now an adult, was moderated by us as a child with his game time. As he grew, his studies required more pc time, we could not do that as much. I can now tell you he is a screen gaming internet addict who is still in denial and has huge social anxiety and has not had a job ever, despite being exceptionally bright. We are now not enabling him to continue this way any longer.

      Some kids cannot moderate and exhibit mental health issues which are created or made worse by gaming  and it is better to withdraw them from video gaming altogether and ban it in the home so they can recover. For a true addict, moderation will never work. Healing can only occur when the brain gets time away from the dopamine rush of gaming. This can take months/years before they will feel the happiness and joy of real life.  I learned a lot on the OLGANON website where it has help for parents of children who cannot moderate and whose lives start to spiral down out of control. The website shares the experiences of parent and addicts. There is also a website run by Melanie Kemp called Families Managing Media that has many suggestions on how to get a healthy lifestyle.

      Some kids are very seriously affected and parents have found it helpful to send them to wilderness therapy or boarding school where they are strictly kept away from gaming

      • Time will tell

        Cleaner Daveson  

        Sorry the name of the person managing the " families managing media" site is Melanie Hemp !

  • A Mom Of Two
    I like the idea of limiting on the weekend or not doing it at all. If you do somthing else like going swimmimg, camping, sports game etc... you might be surprise how much they enjoy it. Sometimes just getting them out helps.
  • oliwier
    My nephew used to be video game addict during his teen. So my sister set rules that no video games during weekdays. He can only play video games during Saturday and Sunday afternoon and my nephew's addiction on video games gradually stop.
Advertisement for Empowering Parents Total Transformation Online Package
Like What You're Reading?
Sign up for our newsletter and get immediate access to a FREE eBook, 5 Ways to Fix Disrespectful Behavior Now
We will not share your information with anyone. Terms of Use