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A Parent’s Guide to Gaming

Pros and Cons of the Gaming World

Video games are one of the world’s most popular forms of everyday entertainment. If you are a parent, I am sure you would want to ensure that your child’s gaming habits remain a positive influence on their development and education, and to ensure their safety online. This is why I have weighed up a few pros and cons of gaming. If you believe your child or another family members’ gaming is effecting your family negatively, I have included a few signs to look for together with a few helpful contacts.

Video games are not all bad and can be brilliant for your child’s entertainment and, believe it or not, even their development. They can be engaging and can benefit their education and overall development. Video games can teach your child cognitive skills such as problem solving, decision making and strategy development, emotional skills such as teaching self-expression, social skills by playing and connecting with friends and parents, and manual skills like hand-eye coordination, and reading and comprehension.

However, there’s always the ad that comes with the benefits. Some concerns of gaming could include excessive use resulting in addiction, cyber safety and cyber bullying issues, the viewing of inappropriate content, and even an introduction to gambling in some instances.

Several studies have found that 5-15% of gamers play excessively resulting in a negative impact on both their families and every day life. But what is the definition of excessive gaming? Is it up to 10 hours per week? 20 hours? 40 hours? More? As gaming is not recognised as a formal addiction, it is difficult to tell, however excessive gaming results in similar symptoms  as a gambling or substance abuse addiction. Some symptoms include using the game world, or virtual reality, as a coping mechanism and having the gaming world completely absorb them, even to the point that it becomes their reality and feels real to them. The player’s tolerance to the games, increases resulting in the player gaming for longer to have the same effect on their mood. Players can also experience withdrawal symptoms when trying, or forced, to quit the game and they can suffer from relapse as a result.

Cyber safety is also an important aspect of gaming. Players, in some games, are able to create avatars, or characters, to represent themselves. Through the use of avatars, players are able to interact with other players and this can sometimes create anti-social situations. These games can be used as a potential place for child grooming and bullying. Instances of this occurring is being reported more and more in the news and media.

Finally, some games introduce children to violence and inappropriate content. This can be difficult for parents to detect if they have not spent time playing the game, but they can be as vigil as they would be when allowing their child to watch a movie or TV program. The Australian Classification can be referenced if parents are unsure if a game is considered appropriate for their child’s age.

What a lot of people don’t understand is how long term excessive gaming can do to your health. Eating habits can change effecting your weight, hygiene standards drop as showing and brushing your teeth will take you away from the game, and if you play long enough, continuously for days, it can even lead to cardiac arrest; there have been numerous deaths reported from around the world.

When it comes to determining how much time you allow your child to play games, just use common sense and ensure it is in moderation. Limit game sessions and mix it with outdoor play and other activities not involving screen time. And most importantly, talk to you child about the games they are playing, and even play with them. By talking to your child, not only about the game itself, but the amount of time playing a game and the issues related to playing computer games, this will help educate them on the issue.

If you require further information, I recommend downloading or purchasing a copy of Manningham YMCA Parent’s Guide to Gaming by Steven Dupon. Steven is the Manager at Manningham YMCA Youth Services, to whom I have referenced in this article.

Helpful Resources

Video Games (VG) Help – developed by Steven Dupon

Australian Classifications

Lifeline or call 13 11 14

Kids Help Line or call 1800 55 1800

Talk to your Local General Practitioner (GP)


Beyond Blue

Headspace or call 1800 650 890