Parents use video games as a babysitter and, therefore, don’t interact with their children as often. It is tempting to allow your children to play video games so that you can get chores done or engage in your own pastimes. Parents who have a game console should keep it in a high traffic part of the house rather than a location such as a child’s bedroom because it is easy to lose track of how much time has gone by. In fact, it is wise to consider only allowing children to play video games with the family as a group activity.
Children spend more time indoors and do not get enough exercise. Obesity in children is at an all-time high in the United States. Children have more and more reason to stay in doors. After school some children find themselves home alone. Video games keep them from exerting any calorie burning energy. With the advent of live, online gaming the draw toward hours in front of these games is becoming even worse.
Playing the games can take priority over responsibilities at home or school. A good rule is no video games during the school week in order to avoid the mental distraction. In fact, a 2005 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that children who play more than one hour of video games per day tend to get poor grades and be less content in life. Surprisingly, no similar tendency was found in those who spend four hours per day watching television.
Children who play games that are mature or violent may act inappropriately at home or school. Parents should carefully monitor what, if any, video games they will allow their children to play since a high percentage reinforce aggressive behavior and violence.
They can be expensive, and children tire of them easily. New games can range from $30 to $50. Used games are more affordable and are usually “gently” used. Kids either conquer or outgrow them quickly. Many video game outlets also sell used games. It is a more affordable choice.
More and more children, especially boys, are becoming addicted to video games. One of the key reasons video games are addictive is the physiological effect. A study at the Hammersmith Hospital in London found that playing games triggers release of dopamine in the brain. Researchers discovered that dopamine production in the brain doubles during video game play. The increase of the psychoactive chemical was roughly the same as when a person is injected with amphetamines. (For more information, see “Hooked! The Addictive Power of Video Games.”) Still, parents who limit video game play time to appropriate levels will likely consider the expense per minute of fun much higher than other entertainment alternatives.