A teenager who enjoys video games might spend too much time honing his skills in front of the screen. Because of the solitary nature of many video games, a parent rightfully should worry about a child becoming too isolated. If you think your teen has developed a troubling relationship with gaming, work to bring the activity back into balance and encourage your teen to broaden his social horizons to avoid isolation.
Assess your teenager’s behaviors and activities to determine whether he has a gaming problem. Common symptoms of excessive gaming include avoiding responsibilities and social interaction, devoting all free time to gaming, not getting enough sleep and “gaming binges,” in which the gamer plays for many hours nonstop, according to clinical psychologist Brent Conrad, with the TechAddiction website.
Discuss your concerns with your child. Without attacking or judging, tell your child you’ve noticed behavior that concerns you that's connected to his gaming habits. Give a few specific examples to show your child that you have given this considerable consideration. For example, you might say, “It seems like you don’t have time for your friends anymore and a few mornings I’ve noticed you looking like you didn't get enough sleep.”
Ask your child to keep a log of his time spent gaming for one week, suggests the WebMD website). Request that he record the beginning and the ending time that he engages in video gaming every time he plays. Monitor the gaming and the log-keeping to ensure that your teen is logging time accurately.
Examine the log after one week with your teen. Ask your child whether this was a typical week or whether he modified his time because of the tracking. Discuss the findings with him and invite his reaction and thoughts about the amount of time he spent playing video games.
Explore limiting or controlling the amount of time he spends playing video games and the types of games he plays, if necessary. You might find that multiplayer online games tend to be more addictive for your teenager. Perhaps your teenager can spend an hour or two playing games after he finishes all of his responsibilities and chores for the day.
Monitor your teen’s progress after instituting the limits. You will need to follow through to ensure that he upholds them.
Encourage your teen to spend his new free time engaging in other positive behaviors such as seeing friends, playing sports, playing games outside and spending time with family. When you notice your child making these positive changes, praise him effusively.
If your teen has a computer in his room, do not remove it or you risk inciting a wrathful response, advises psychologist Michael Oberschneider, director of Ashburn Psychological Services. You might control gaming time by installing surveillance software that blocks access to games. Surveillance software can also monitor gaming time, if necessary.