What are the 4 main worries for parents?
- Wasted time: The first real problem for parents and children is amount of precious time that playing video games can waste – time when your child could be reading, being creative, being active, or even just spending time with you!
- Addictive: Video games are specifically designed to keep you playing for that next level or better high score. Game designers don’t want kids to stop playing, so they build manipulative psychological tactics into the game to keep your child hooked. ‘Win more points and get new stuff’. ‘Play longer and unlock new levels’ etc.
- Physically unhealthy: Playing video games is a passive experience, it doesn’t involve moving your body at all and can contribute to lack of focus, poor posture or even weight gain.
- Mentally unhealthy: If your child plays video games for more than 2 hrs day it can cause him or her to become less sociable, more introspective and can even lower their self esteem [academic research report in full here].
Getting it right…
The web has thousands of articles about kids and video games. Some claim your child will be irreversible damaged by video games and some claim that video games are no problem at all. Most articles miss the point about the time that kids will spend in front of the TV:
Playing a video game in moderation can be good for a child’s development by improving coordination, perseverance, reaction times, problem solving skills etc. But, playing in excess is clearly not at all healthy and has been proven to cause developmental issues.
The damage is done when children play for more than 2-3 hours a day. We all know that anything is harmful in excess, well the same is true here. We limit sugary drinks and sweets because we know that too much sugar is unhealthy. The latest research indicates that more than 2-3 hrs a day on video games or TV can lead to serious physical and mental health issues.
We’ve got kids. And a TV. And games consoles. And we’ve had many conflicts trying to limit video game time. It can be a real struggle getting them to stop playing to come for dinner, homework, tidying up etc. You are not alone if you’ve ‘lost it’ with your kids for not finishing when you have given them several warnings. It doesn’t get any easier as they get older either. We have tried most of the common methods:
- Ask them nicely to stop playing their game and suggest they do something else
Chance of success 2/10 Conflict level: 1/10
- Count to three (with a significant threat if you get to three)
Chance of success 4/10 Conflict level: 7/10
- Grab the remote control and turn off the TV
Chance of success 8/10 Conflict level 9/10
- Sell the TV on ebay
Chance of success 10/10 Conflict level 10/10
Not really serious suggestions, but we have been desperate enough to try them all 🙂
So we designed and built our own solution:
We needed a timer which would allow our kids a fair amount of game play but would keep it within safe limits.
Regular on/off timers don’t work because the kids unplugged or reprogrammed them!
Asking the kids to ‘self regulate’ worked for a while, but it is easy to lose track of time and they didn’t really want to stop. Surprised?
Searching the web for device that limited time playing on Game Consoles and watching TV produced no results. There’s plenty of software out there to control laptops, ipads etc, but nothing which solved our need to limit TV watching and video game time.
So, we designed and produced our own solution which plugs into your TV socket and is controlled from your iphone.
It allows you to set a safe daily limit which refreshes every day. It starts when the TV is turned on, pauses when it is turned off and sends you an alert if it is tampered with. It encourages your kids to learn the basics of time management and reduces the arguments over how much time they have had.
It’s certainly working well for us and we are enjoying far more harmony at home as a result.
If this sounds like it might help you find the right balance at home, protect your kids health and reclaim a little ‘family time’ for you and your kids, then click here to find out more.
Child safety references:
Amount of time on TV: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/tv-habits.html
Effects of video gaming on children’s mental health: *Ref: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/early/2014/07/29/peds.2013-4021.full.pdf
Effects of video gaming on children’s physical health: http://www.healthcentral.com/adhd/cf/slideshows/8-ways-video-games-are-bad-for-your-health
Time playing video games: http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/video-gaming.html
Psychological manipulation in game design: http://www.doriadar.com/7-psychological-tactics-used-in-games-to-hook-users/