Skip to Main Content
1440_405-1116_628-768_432

Childhood Gaming: How It Can Help and Hurt Development


April 03, 2022 Posted in: Health & Wellness  3 minute read time

 

After the holidays, many children are likely still excitedly playing with their new toys – some of which may include video games. According to the Entertainment Software Association, 76% of children play video games, whether on the phone, computer or gaming systems. Video gaming has also increased measurably during the pandemic as people have spent more time indoors.

For the most part, video games can have a positive impact on brain development, helping younger children develop language, social and motor skills. Some games help children learn different languages, like Spanish, and for those who are shy, gaming can also be a good way to interact with people at a safe distance. Additionally, video games can help teach kids how to win, lose and problem-solve – all three equally as important.

But there can also be a darker side to this popular activity. Some studies have found that video games could cause disrupted sleep and addiction to screen time. While it is often suggested that these games can increase aggressive behavior, there is still no real consensus on this despite decades of research.

Regardless, it’s important to monitor children’s activities and establish appropriate levels of screen time, as well as boundaries for interactions with other gamers. A good rule of thumb is to limit your child’s gaming time to one hour a day, with more flexibility among older children. Another guideline is to ensure games are age-appropriate for a child’s developmental stage. Children should not be introduced to video games until they are over age 2, and that includes games on smartphones. Parents should also pay attention to a child’s general mood and school grades to determine if a healthy balance with gaming has been achieved.

In extreme circumstances, children could develop gaming addictions – these symptoms can include extreme irritability, hallucinations and weight gain. This type of addiction is usually a worst-case scenario. Generally, however, video games can have positive effects, including improvement in mood, relaxation and a reduction in anxiety symptoms.

The best games to engage a child’s mind and help them socialize include role-playing games, simple and multi-player games, and strategic games. Playing video games with your child is also an excellent bonding activity.

If you have concerns about how video games or other screen time affects your child’s health, consult with a pediatrician and limit gaming until a plan of action is established. By taking these steps, you can help ensure that videos games positively impact your child and not hurt them.  


Dr. Alam Khan

CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group –  Neurology

Dr. Alam Khan

CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group –  Neurology

Recent Articles

Calling All Parents and Caregivers; Take Action During Baby Safety Month

SEP 28, 2022

While baby safety is always top of mind for parents and caregivers, Baby Safety Month is the perfect time to revisit the basics of caring for an infant to keep your newborn safe. Adopt good safety practices to avoid common hazards for babies.

Read More Additional information about Calling All Parents and Caregivers; Take Action During Baby Safety Month | Spirit of Health | CHI Saint Joseph Health

Healthy Aging

SEP 16, 2022

Is knee pain taking a toll? Experts say go for a walk. Walking as a form of exercise has enormous benefits, particularly for older adults.

Read More Additional information about Healthy Aging | Spirit of Health | CHI Saint Joseph Health

Six Ways to Keep Your Baby Safe While Sleeping

SEP 14, 2022

In its first safe sleep update since 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns parents to place babies on their backs and flat surfaces when they sleep. AAP experts also alert parents of the dangers of weighted blankets and hats.

Read More Additional information about Six Ways to Keep Your Baby Safe While Sleeping | Spirit of Health | CHI Saint Joseph Health

Subscribe for Updates


Fill out the form below to receive monthly health news and information to your inbox.


View the Latest Print Edition


Spirit of Health magazine's print edition is distributed quarterly and focuses on topics related to our CHI Saint Joseph Health purpose and values.