Kids and Video Games
Like many aspects of raising kids, when it comes to video games, the healthiest approach is moderation.
Can Playing Video Games Be Good for Kids?
Some games might improve kids' hand–eye coordination and problem-solving skills. Video games that require kids to move or manipulate the game through their own physical movement can get sedentary kids moving — but not as much as if they actually played outside or did sports. Other games don't have such benefits, and violent video games have been shown to increase kids' aggressive behavior.
What Limits Should We Set?
Using media should not take the place of getting enough sleep or being physically active. So consider setting limits to keep game-playing from interfering with schoolwork, household chores, and the physical activity your kids need every day.
Kids should only play games suitable for their age group. All video games are rated and labeled by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Steer clear of any rated "M" for "mature" (for ages 17 and older) or “AO” for “adults only.” (for ages 18 and older). These can contain heavy-duty violence, strong language, and sexual content. Playing games with your kids is a good way to see what they're doing.
Keep the video game set-up in a common area of the house, not a child's bedroom. This will let you catch any inappropriate content, and kids will be in a position to interact with others. Also pay attention to time spent playing games on smartphones and tablets.
Look for age-appropriate multi-player games that let kids socialize with friends. Interactive games in which players collaborate can teach kids to work together in both online and offline settings.
Make sure your kids have other appealing choices: sports, activities, chances to socialize with friends, and downtime to be creative.
What Else Can Help?
Online, you can check out:
- the AAP's family media plan tool, which lets parents create a media plan for their family
- Common Sense Media, which has information about age and content appropriateness of video games and other media
If you have concerns about your kids' video game activity, talk with your doctor.