When it comes to getting our kids away from video games it can often seem a lot like a punishment. So why not make it an enjoyable family affair? We so often get caught in a conflict when we tell our children “enough video games” without giving them something else to do and for no reason other than the fact that it’s bad for them. In this article, we are going to break down why we need to control our children’s video game consumption and some great ways of doing it as a family.
Effects of Too Much Video Games
It might seem like a bit of a no-brainer that it’s not good for our children to be sitting in front of a monitor playing video games all day. But sadly the effects can be a lot more sinister than you’d expect.
Some of the common symptoms of excessive video games are:
- Obsessive thinking about video games
- Lack of motivation and interest in other activities
- Feeling irritable and agitated when they can’t play
- Needing to play more video games to feel good
- Decline in mental health – Depression/Anxiety
- Poor grades and academic performance
- Playing video games as a form of escape
- Lying to conceal gaming habits
All of these symptoms are a product of the major risk of playing too much video games which is, video game addiction. Video game addiction is a behavioural addiction recognised by The World Health Organisation (WHO) as an official mental health disorder. Their acknowledgement and research on the addiction have made waves across many countries in Asia and Europe.
The UK’s national healthcare service the NHS has produced long term treatment plans for young people affected, whilst other countries such as China have made official nationwide bans of video games for children under the age of 18. The gaming culture within South Korea has reached such a peak that government officials are claiming it is a national health crisis.
So what does this mean for us? As parents, it is our job to guide our children to create a healthy relationship with gaming and be vigilant to the signs that they might be taking over.
Best Family Activities
Children of all ages play video games nowadays so we wanted to incorporate activities that can get the whole family involved and prevent the stroppy embarrassed teenager from being an onlooker.
Go On A Staycation – This option has risen in popularity due to the pandemic as an awesome affordable alternative to a holiday. Oftentimes our little gamers don’t get to explore and see what other local cities have to offer. Be it inspiring architecture, interesting people or food, discovering things together as a family is a great way to bond and get them away from those consoles. Obviously, you can’t do this every week but it is great to capitalise on these opportunities of them being out of the house.
With them staying in a foreign place without the comfort of home to run away to so easily they will be more likely to try new activities. These opportunities are what harbour personal growth and the chance to develop new passions like horseback riding, ice skating and so on!
Gaming provides such high stimulation full of adrenaline rushes and dopamine hits. So it’s important when choosing activities to do outside we bear this in mind. A great relaxing activity in the evening could be an evening walk but during the day they might need something that keeps them locked in like kayaking or a competitive activity like table tennis.
Netflix Watch Party – Enjoying some quality content together doesn’t have to be a trip to the cinema coughing up loads of money on nachos and popcorn. Having a Netflix watching party at home is a fun way for you and your family to get immersed in an experience together. Dimming down the lights and gathering up some blankets for a cosy home movie night gets the little ones excited at the thought. With the wide range of television apps, there is bound to be something out there that everyone can agree on. Granted watching television for hours and hours is not a healthy alternative but what we’re encouraging is a frequent bonding time important for getting them away from video games.
Cutting down on video games can be a very lonely experience for any child as many of their friends and social interactions will be carried out over these platforms. Therefore keeping them company is essential on their journey.
Visit a Local Farm – Going to a local farm or petting zoo can be the perfect way to spark their interest in animals and wildlife. As time goes on children are exposed to animals less and less, so being up close and personal with them is the best way to show them just how fascinating they can be. For those families not keen on the responsibility of pets it can be a great way for your children to have a temporary fluffy companion without the hassle.
Many people find interacting and petting their animals to be somewhat of a mindfulness exercise. Running their fingers through the warm fluffy coat of a bunny can bring their attention and awareness away from the high octane thoughts of gaming which can be extremely beneficial in the long run.
Mindfulness is incorporated into all modern courses of CBT which are the gold standard when it comes to treating video game addiction. So sprinkling in some mindful exercises during their time away from gaming can help to decrease the addictive effects gaming has on them.
Cook Dinner Together – This is simply a win-win. Spending time together as a family, providing a fun productive activity for the kids instead of video games and spare hands in the kitchen. Learning to make a few simple meals will always benefit a child’s development for whatever their plans in life. They will one day have to make some food of their own or even pass on that family recipe so why not get the practice in now?
But on a more professional note, many gamers kick their feet up at the end of the day to relax and unwind using gaming. Cooking in the evening as opposed to playing video games can provide similar stimulation; they have to concentrate to get it done right, it is relatively low energy and provides a lovely sense of accomplishment when they tuck into a delicious dinner.
When it comes to ultimately replacing the habit of gaming it is important that we satisfy the different facets that gaming does. The stimulation and measurable growth, the social interaction and the relaxation. As a family this can easily be accomplished but only if you work together.
If you feel like your little ones might be playing too many video games or want to know more about video game addiction, The Mindful Gamer is always here to help.