Advice to Parents: 5 top tips for a healthy gaming balance

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The world is experiencing something completely new right now which no-one has gone through before.  Who would have thought when we saw in the New year and looked ahead at 2020 the vision would be stuck indoors, trying to juggle working and home schooling?

Much has been made in the news of the amount of time children are spending playing online with reports of young people playing up to 15 hours a day.  Research has shown if you allow your child to spend all day gaming or playing online it can affect their health and behaviour.  From headaches, trouble sleeping, physical injuries due to being locked in the same position for most of the day, to becoming angry, aggressive, annoyed whilst playing and when being made to stop play.

However, and especially during lockdown, whilst it is not healthy for a young person to be playing for long periods of time we should take into account why young people are choosing to engage in online play as it may not always be why we think.

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, love and belonging is one of the basic needs a person requires.  With a high number of young people struggling with mental health issues, there is a concern the number will increase during lockdown due to losing the sense of connection with people and missing friends… and this is how online play can be beneficial.

Online play, and in particular multiplayer games, allows a number of people to play together and more importantly chat to each other.  Whilst not having to go to school seemed a great idea to start with, many young people are missing the social aspect and are looking to engage with their friends.  For boys, in particular, playing online and chatting to their friends is bringing a sense of normality for them. 

During some recent research young people informed me they didn’t mind what game they played online as long as it was a game they could play with a friend. They also said when they feel sad or struggle with the current situation, it helps that they can log online and use gaming as a way to connect with their friends.

Whilst this doesn’t mean that your child should spend all day every day gaming; establishing healthy boundaries is key. It is important to be mindful of why your child/ren may be engaging in online play and allow them some leeway at this time as we are all needing that missing social interaction right now.

For more information on creating a healthy online/offline balance our new parent hub website will be launching next month.  Keep an eye on our social media channels for further updates.

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