6 Ways to Manage Your Child's Video or Computer Game Addiction
Renee | Nov 7, 2012
A 2007 study found that as many as 5 million children in the United States are addicted to online or video games, and ADHD kids may be particularly vulnerable.
Know when it's time to get help
If you worry that your child spends too much time playing online, you’re probably right. But, there is a difference between simply loving a game and having a gaming addiction. If your child lies about how many hours he plays, isn’t keeping up in school, or is dropping out of formerly fun activities to spend more time playing games, he may have a problem. He may also display signs of withdrawal such as agitation or frustration when not playing…
Consider cutting the cord...sometimes
The most obvious thing to do is to begin by setting limits on the amount of time your child can spend gaming. Experts say it’s important not to cut kids off completely without considering the consequences–particularly if they are truly addicted–but learning to set reasonable limits around mealtimes, homework time, and family or bed time can be a simple way to show that you consider gaming to be something that can only be done at “play” times.
Get to the heart of the matter
Many kids, including those with ADHD, retreat to the online world as a way to keep away from real-life problems such as depression, anxiety, bullying, or loneliness. In these cases, the games themselves are not so much a problem as your child’s way of attempting to find a solution. If you know your child well you may be able to uncover the deeper issues, but they may feel more comfortable talking to a therapist or other adult about these issues.
Make the game come alive
Just because many games take place in a fantasy world doesn’t mean there aren’t real-life applications. If your daughter loves an online warrior, offer to help her get started in a martial arts class. Kids with ADHD often have a tough time feeling like they fit in on teams, but there are plenty of individual sports that may help them gain some of the skills they’re drawn to in gaming. It’s a healthy, real world way to get them involved socially.
Consider the benefits
Honoring your child’s interests can help you start discussions on what types of jobs, college majors, or paths they’d like to pursue after school. Plenty of people make a living developing games. Talk to your child about what skills they’d need to develop now in school to make sure they can progress on any path that interest them.
Take a hard look in the mirror
Before you start complaining about your child’s gaming time, make sure you aren’t being hypocritical. Consider whether the whole family–parents included–need to turn off the screens and smart phones more often.