Parents Think Teens Spend Too Much Time Playing Video Games

A recent study found that parents think teens spend too much time playing video games – but that it's normal. Get the details on this study – plus how to encourage other activities.

Teen playing a video game

In what may be the most unsurprising study result of the year, a recent survey found that most parents in the U.S. think teens spend too much time playing video games.

The survey, which was part of the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll, revealed that 86% of parents “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that their teens spend too much time on video games, Reuters Health reports.

Just how much time are teens spending on video games? Though it may seem like an around-the-clock activity on weekends, more than half of parents said their kid spent at least three hours a day gaming – which most parents (78%) thought was about average compared to their peers.

Video gaming isn’t all bad, according to parents surveyed. About 71% believe video games might have a positive impact on their teens. However, they also reported concerns with the games – about 46% of parents said video gaming interferes with their teen’s sleep, and 31% said gaming interferes with extracurricular activities, Reuters reports.

“Parents should take a close look at their teen’s gaming behavior and set reasonable limits to reduce harmful impacts on sleep, family and peer relationships and school performance,” Dr. Gary Freed, co-director of the poll, said in the report.

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How to help

Trying to get your teen interested in activities outside of video games? Consider these tips.

  1. No screens at mealtimes or bedtime. All screens should be off during these times, KidsHealth.org recommends. That means you shouldn’t let your teen have dinner in their room or the basement in front of the TV while they play a video game.
  2. Enforce limits. Try a visual timer like a kitchen timer or an app that tracks your teen’s gaming hours. When time’s up, have other activities at the ready, Eagle Ranch Academy suggests.
  3. Don’t let extracurriculars suffer. If your child is no longer interested in the other activities they usually enjoy, it may be time to intervene. Talk with your child’s pediatrician about the possibility of video game addiction or another problem, Common Sense Media suggests.
  4. Know that it isn’t all bad. Esports – an organized sport competition involving video games – is growing rapidly, with many high schools and colleges offering teams. Learn more here.

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