Video games can be fun and engaging for children of all ages but can become a huge problem if your child refuses to stop playing them. If they show signs of withdrawal or more hours spent on the gaming system, they could have a problem. Once you realize they have a video game addiction, as a parent, you may feel at a loss as to what you should do next.
Addiction is a scary word. There are aspects of gaming addiction that could ruin social ties and devastate large portions of your home life. Don’t let that stop you from doing what is right for you and your child! Read on and learn what to do if your child is addicted to video games.
The signs of a video game addiction aren’t much different from those of substance abuse. There will be lying about how much they game and an attempt to play the games behind your back. Being vigilant is the best way to break an addiction, but vigilance must be tempered with love and care.
Whether your child is starting to choose video games over homework, or your relationship is tense due to their excessive video game use, the following can help you manage your child’s video game addiction.
If your child primarily plays video games on a console (XBOX SERIES X, PlayStation 5, etc.), set up parental controls on the individual systems. It may seem like a challenge, but it is actually relatively easy.
Most major gaming consoles have a parental control app that you can use to control your child’s time spent on the system. These apps use your child’s gaming accounts to help you disable the system. Once they have passed a specific allotted time for video gaming, they are forced to quit and start doing a more productive activity, such as homework.
However, these parental control measures are more for keeping your child safe while playing video games rather than curbing your child’s video gaming addiction. These applications mostly focus on enabling or disabling certain features for your child’s video game consoles, such as online multiplayer mode and content filters.
Besides, video game consoles are not like personal computers; they are rarely used for educational purposes. If you are concerned about the types of video games your child plays, have a conversation with them to express your concerns and see what about those games makes them appealing to your children.
Try removing any video games and their respective gaming consoles out of your child’s room to help reduce their temptation to play all the time. This also puts you in control of specific times that the child can play the consoles.
You have two options at this point:
- You can move the games to a shared space, like the living room, to keep an eye on your child’s gaming habits. Keeping the game in a family room also allows you to watch them while they are gaming. If there are anger outbursts or mood changes, you should monitor them more closely.
- You can remove the household’s games to give them back once your child recognizes their addiction and the effects of their habits on themselves and others. This option will spark an angry or uncooperative response from your child, so only use this method as a last resort.
It may seem invasive for you to monitor your child while playing video games, but it is a more direct way to manage their habits. This is especially beneficial for younger children, as you will also want to be on the lookout for adult or inappropriate content you do not want them exposed to.
Use this opportunity to keep track of how long your child spends playing video games. This will give you a good benchmark as to how much they may be overdoing it and give you an idea of the types of limits you want to set. Also, take note of when they have the most social interaction, which could be the reason behind the gaming and not the games themselves.
If you want to take it a step further, you can keep a log of which games they seem to enjoy and which games seem to frustrate them and give them fits. Gaming should be a fun retreat that isn’t fraught with stress and anxiety about performance. Once they begin to throw controllers or have outbursts you should back them away and into something else.
If your child likes to play video games on the computer, make sure you monitor their use of the computer during other tasks, such as for educational purposes. Ensure they stay on task and don’t get distracted by the urge to play a game. Check-in on them as often as needed to keep them away from playing and into doing their work.
Just like with video gaming, kids can become addicted to using apps or social media. Invest in apps like LimitLauncher.com to set firm boundaries and time limits for your children when they are on the internet or gaming. Part of a parent’s job is to be firm when you want nothing more than to give them what they want. Do the right thing, no matter the outcome.
Eventually, your child may want to visit a relative or friend’s house more often to play video games there if they cannot do so at home. In this case, make sure that they have their school work and other responsibilities at home taken care of before they are allowed to visit others.
If you feel that your child is only going to a friend’s house to play video games at times when they are not supposed to, consider limiting their visiting times anytime video game use is restricted. When playing is allowed, only then can they visit their friends.
You could also try contacting their friend’s parents and let them know of your concerns. Consider scheduling a day out where you all take the kids somewhere outside the home to do other activities besides play video games together.
Positive reinforcement, the psychological concept that involves rewarding someone for good work or behavior, has been shown to work wonders on children. Positive reinforcement is great when children are doing things to be rewarded and starting to tackle new responsibilities, like less gaming.
What your child needs to do, whether it be homework or chores, to be rewarded is up to you. For example, you can allow your child to play about an hour of video games as a reward for finishing their work or cleaning their room. You might add more time on weekend nights to incentivize them.
Kids are sneaky and stealthy like tiny ninjas. They will wiggle and squirm their way out of situations, and gaming is no different. Keep your eye open for any irregularities in your app controls or the passwords, that kids could think might lock you out.
Sometimes, children will develop a video game addiction because they use games to escape from a problem they face, like low self-esteem or anxiety. Sit down with your child and express your concerns about their video gaming habits. Try and encourage them to discuss what is going on and create a safe environment for those conversations.
Encouraging your child to talk to you about why they are potentially addicted to video games will allow your child to feel at ease talking to you about other heavy-handed subjects. It can even convince them to put down that controller! You must be supportive but firm. Let them know that gaming is being restricted in their best interest.
If you believe external factors contribute to the addiction, such as stress from school, try to help your child through it. Encourage them to use more positive coping mechanisms, like talking to you or taking a walk outside, anytime they feel anxious, depressed, or stressed.
It is worth noting that you should not try to force your child to admit they have an addiction to video gaming. Just calmly address your concerns about the gaming habits and allow them the space to come to terms with it on their own. Otherwise, they may feel resentful and become more invested in video gaming to avoid those negative feelings.
Instead of letting them play video games, take your child out to various places, like science museums, art galleries, the park, or any other engaging site to help them explore their interests outside of games. They may resist at first, but they may be surprised to find something that they sincerely enjoy.
It may take a few tries for your child to find an interest that they genuinely enjoy, but do not lose hope. Your child will soon enough develop an interest in something else. Don’t be afraid to let them try new things. Often the exhilaration of winning and losing can be transferred to physical activities like running or lifting weights.
Encouraging your child to participate in something physical could be the thing they are missing. Once they understand that physical games, like basketball or swimming, will provide the same rush as any win on a gaming system, they could start a life-long love affair with a sport they enjoy.
If you believe your child’s video game addiction has started to take a toll on their mental and physical health, consider scheduling them an appointment with a doctor. A doctor will provide you with information that can help you seek out the correct therapist or psychologist specializing in this kind of addiction.
If your child uses video gaming as a negative coping mechanism for other mental problems they may have, such as depression or dissociative identity disorder, take them to a therapist. They can talk out their issues with a neutral, caring entity that can guide them away from the addictive behaviors they may have that you are worried about.
Your child may resist at first and deny they have a problem with too much video gaming, and it might take a couple of doctors for your child to find one they can trust. However, therapy can be extensively rewarding for the worst of video game addicted people because therapists can often find the root of your child’s problems and address it accordingly.
As previously mentioned, keeping track of your child’s gaming time is the best way to enforce rules about video gaming. Some parental controls settings on consoles will allow you to set it up so that it will shut down after a certain amount of gameplay, but you can also buy a timer to keep track of your child’s gaming.
You can set a timer to the amount of time you allow your child to play video games. Once the timer goes off, you can tell your child to get off the system. There are times that they should be allowed extra time but keep those incidents down. When trying to break an addiction, more of the drug is not the answer.
Just be sure to keep the timer super close to you so the child does not manipulate it. Children are better at technology than ever these days, and if they have a chance, they can take advantage of any loophole they find to your ground rules on video gaming. Keep an eye on them and your devices as they may steal or hide them to get what they want.
Have set guidelines in place for how long your child can play video games and make sure they understand them. If they play their video game for longer than you allow, have a consequence for it ready, such as lowering game time. As a last resort, you can also remove their games from their room—be it a day or two or even a week—if they continue to disobey your rules.
Some parents may shy away, but tough love in these situations could be the only answer. Showing your child that you are serious about helping them could create a barrier in their mind that leads to a bit of perspective on their problem. Know when to be gentle and when to use whatever means necessary to get your objective completed.
The ultimate nuclear weapon in this scenario is taking away power cords. Once you have all the power cords, they can do nothing but wait until the devices die and their sickness runs its course. Once they understand what you expect, you can begin to give them back access, but with limited times and always monitored sessions.
One of the most efficient ways to combat your child’s video game addiction is to have software that disables access to your child’s video games. This software will allow you to prevent your child from going over their moderated time and combat your child’s addiction.
Some parents avoid using software like this since often, it can have the adverse effect of locking other apps, such as internet browsers and PDF readers. This can make things difficult if your child has to use the internet for school-related purposes or needs a particular software to get some homework done.
However, Limit Launcher is one application that avoids this, allowing your child to access the things they need for school while blocking the means to access video games. It is an all in one app that can control every aspect of your child’s online presence. Always lean on tools like Limit Launcher when you have run out of ideas.
There are many perks to using Limit Launcher as your video game disabling application:
- Limit Launcher is Affordable – There are three different subscription plans available to choose from based on your needs. They range in price, starting at $5.99 per month up to $9.99 per month, although this can be less if you opt for a yearly plan instead of monthly (perfect for covering the entire school year). Additionally, all three plans come with a two weeks trial.
- Control up to 20 Devices – You can limit video game use on up to ten devices; this is especially helpful for households with multiple children. Multiple devices can be controlled individually if you have one child that finishes their homework sooner than the other or one you can grant access to their video games as needed.
- Limit Launcher is Seamless – The application is subtle; it does not distract your child when active. This is important as kids can get frustrated if there are lag times or the gaming engine is too slow.
- Easy to use and set up – Having something easy to use will be in your best interest. Complicated time-saving devices could impact all parts of your home network if not set up and monitored properly.
- Phone App Access – You can control your child’s game time through the Limit Launcher app on your phone or other mobile tablets. All you need to do is download the software on the devices your child frequently uses.
- Restricts Buying Power – Limit Launcher can immediately block access to all major PC game launchers, including Steam, Origin, Epic Games, Battle.net, and more. Other software disabling apps will only restrict launchers one at a time or after you go through the process of registering them.
- App Updates – The app automatically updates, so you don’t have to reinstall it every time a new version comes out. This is important because patches, fixes to bugs in the program, are usually located in an update, and they could contain crucial information that will protect your child and their devices.
- 24/7 Customer Support – Limit Launcher also has 24/7 customer support. No matter when you are having problems, you can call the good folks at Limit Launcher and get the help you are looking for. They are the source for all FAQs and other issues that might arise from using the app.
- Set Boundaries – With Limit Launcher, you can select the boundaries you want to enforce with your child’s video game use on the PC and have greater control over that time. This is the ultimate benefit of the app. You are in control of what they can consume and for how long. That gives you ultimate control of the situation.
Note: As of right now, Limit Launcher only works for the Windows PC. However, it will not be long before it becomes available on other computer systems, such as Chromebook, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux.
With all this talk about various solutions for addressing video game addiction, you may be wondering what action is immediately required. Any problem left unchecked will run through your child’s life like a bull in a china shop. Don’t delay doing what has to be done to get your child on the other side of this.
A video gaming addiction has dire consequences if left untreated. Although addiction has something more traumatic at its root, playing games can start an uneven lifestyle that will plague the child for the rest of their lives. Today it is gaming tomorrow; it could be hard drugs or alcohol.
Your child can develop negative symptoms such as:
- Lying – Lying about how long they play video games per day is a video game addiction symptom. There is shame in how much time is wasted playing video games, and an addict will lie to keep that shame from being exposed. Try and dig further into their stories before confronting them on their issues.
- Obsession – Thinking about nothing but video games is another symptom to watch for. If they can only talk about gaming and what has happened while they were in a session, you could have an addiction problem on your hands. Work to ask them about anything but gaming to see how far they will go to relate.
- Disinterest – Losing interest in other activities could be a symptom of gaming addiction. If you notice that different parts of their lives, like sports and friends, start to fall apart, you should begin to step in and remove games.
- Anger – Kids will get angry and withdraw if they cannot play games. Keep an eye out for anger as it is one of the worst effects addiction can have. Usually pleasant children will become irritable and combative if they are kept away from gaming.
If this sounds like symptoms of drug addiction or dependency, you would be correct. If not played in moderation, video games can give your child the increasing desire, and eventually addiction, to dopamine—a neurotransmitter that activates the pleasure center of the brain—and the resulting positive moods that come from succeeding in the video games they love to play.
Video game addiction is similar to gambling addiction than anything else. For example, if you have ever used a slot machine or played a game in a casino before, you know that when you win—no matter how much or little you earn—the device will light up and overstimulate you. This incentivizes you to keep playing for another win.
Like a gambling addiction, a video gaming addiction can lead to symptoms in your child such as—but not limited to:
- Psychological dependence on video games and any resulting dopamine effects. Dopamine addiction could mean a chemical imbalance in the brain that could require medication to function correctly. See a doctor if you believe your child could need more help than you could give them.
- Being unable to walk away from games is hard to watch. Ensure that you have a plan to keep them occupied and busy until a new habit is formed that moves them away from gaming and onto something more productive or life-affirming.
Left untreated or unaddressed, video game addiction can negatively impact your child as they mature, leading them to develop other severe addictions like gambling or—even worse—drug addiction. This makes it even more critical for parents to nip video game addiction in the bud by applying one or more of the solutions above.
Remember, not every solution will curb video game addiction for your child, but they can certainly help when used in combination with one another. For example, consider downloading Limit Launcher as an aid to help monitor and track your child’s time with video games and set boundaries for when it is or is not time to indulge.