What if your child is a fanatic gamer? Ten tips for anxious parents

Many parents prefer to stay aloof when their child gamet or are even extra worried about the hobby of son or daughter. Yet that is not always necessary, says Davy Nijs, media teacher and lecturer at UCLL. Gaming can be a nice hobby like another.

Only there must be a healthy balance and it is essential that parents do not just stay on the sidelines.” With these ten tips, you give gaming a healthy place in your family.

Today is the International Video Game Day, a day that is entirely dedicated to the video game. And although both young people and adults occasionally pick up the PlayStation, Xbox or PC, the phenomenon can still count on suspicion from one specific group: the parents.

However, that anxiety is not always justified, and can even be counterproductive, explains Nijs. “Gaming can be a very nice hobby, as long as there is a healthy balance. Being confined to a screen every day for hours is obviously not the intention, but that applies to almost every hobby. Sometimes playing basketball for hours is also not recommended.”

“Not every gamer gets hooked”
However, it is good to be involved in gaming as a parent. Many parents are too aloof, so they do not understand what their child is doing. “It is not because your child has a hobby of his own that you have to stay on the sidelines. Playing along as a parent is not always easy, but you can also sit down next to them or ask for an explanation about the game”, he advises. “Do that earlier than later.”

The fear of a game addicted child is often unnecessarily large.””It seems like every gamer is addicted, but of course that is not the case at all. Only a fraction of the gamers gets to deal effectively with an addiction. In addition, you also have a group of gamers who have a rather problematic relationship with their hobby. This is a group that we need to keep an eye on, and where parents can still have enough impact to play in a healthy way. Underneath the shield of the game, there is often an underlying problem, which makes it more likely to grab the controller.”

“In short, it is essential that parents realize that they have a role to play in the gaming habits of their children. And they have to realize that gaming can also be something very positive,” concludes Nijs.

Ten tips

To help parents with a ‘game-wise’ upbringing, Nijs and his colleague Huub Boonen compiled a list with ten useful tips. From structure to the occasional schedule-free day plan: so, you as a parent healthy with your gaming brood.

1. View the positive
Parents see gaming as a hobby that can also be discussed in a positive way. Talk to it, indicate limits. Gaming is part of this time.

2. Make gaming a family activity
As a parent, you are best involved in gaming. That is possible from primary school. Start early with this, because it is difficult to pick up later, for example when your adolescent has been accustomed to playing alone for years. Try to make a family activity out of it.

3. Offer structure
Structure the gaming together with your child in a weekly schedule. Gaming can happen at any time. Parents help best with the planning of the gaming activities. Duration is less important, but the feeling around and the ‘why’ of gaming.

4. Be game-wise
Look especially at the behaviour around gaming and strive for a ‘game-wise’ upbringing. In any case, you as a parent have to make clear agreements about gaming and screen use and are consistent in that.

5. Plan a day off
Also schedule game-free days: imagine activities yourself or let your children propose an alternative.

6. Choose your moment
Discuss gaming when your child is not gaming. Your child will pay less attention to this during gaming.

7. Pay attention to the time
Help children realize what time investment requires gaming from them. And when they have to stop, this is best done on time. Otherwise they may abandon their virtual team.

8. Remember: gaming can also be instructive
Remember that gaming certainly has positive learning effects: learning from mistakes, problem-solving thinking and perseverance are important attitudes that are encouraged by gaming. Also, spatial insight and orientation capacity are knowledge domains that are realized through gaming.

9. Support your child in his or her dream career
The game sector is booming. Gaming brings players into contact with a whole range of new professions, training courses and job opportunities. Maybe your teenager wants to work as a concept artist or as a game developer.

10. Stay alert
Of course, it is not for everyone in an innocent hobby. When do you know if your child is playing too much? Pay extra attention if your children get upset if you want to talk about it as a parent. Even if they lie about gaming or if a detrimental effect becomes visible – fatigue, poorer school results, truancy, social relations dilute – you better get the alarm bell.

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