The Effects of Video Games
on the Family

Provided by Modern Mom
By Sophfronia Scott

Video games are present in almost every home in America. In fact, according to the Entertainment Software Association, 68 percent of American households played video or computer games in 2009. Playing video games in moderation isn’t likely to affect the family in a negative way, but the effects of gaming could be negative if they start to interfere with family life.

Positive effects of video games

Playing video games together can have a positive effect on the family. Getting everyone together to play can promote family bonding and unity. Some video games, like classic arcade and sports games, are perfect for families to play together. Between turns, family members can talk and enjoy spending time together. Families who tend to be physically inactive may also benefit from playing video games by choosing games like Wii Fit or boxing, which can promote physical activity. Educational video games can also have positive effects on the family. Video games designed for young children can help them with math concepts and reading.

Negative effects of video games

If someone if your family is glued to his or her game console, it could affect your family negatively. Playing video games too often can promote isolation and seclusion, and it can cut down on family time and communication. If your family members have unrestricted access to their video games, they may be at risk for becoming addicted to them. Playing violent video games may potentially lead to increased violence and aggression in family members.

Prevent negative impacts

Parents can prevent video games from negatively affecting their families by following a few simple rules. Video game consoles should be located in public areas of the house, such as the living room or family room. When video games are played in public areas, playing time and game choices can be more easily monitored. Setting limits on when and how long individual family members can play can also help to reduce the negative impact video games may have on the family. Having set boundaries around play time can reduce fights over who gets to play and can prevent too much playing from occurring.

Help for gaming trouble

If you feel like your family is suffering negative effects from video-game use, you can stop — and reverse — the impact. First, cut out video-game playing completely for two weeks. Doing so can help everyone get a much-needed break from the screen. Next, reintroduce video games to your family in a structured way. Have children earn play time or set aside limited time for play each day or on weekends. Lastly, set aside a weekly family night that is free from video games. Play board games or engage in another nongaming activity.

Video-game considerations

When choosing video games, it is important to choose games that are appropriate for your family. In addition to being age-appropriate for family members, the message of the video game should not conflict with your family’s values or rules. For example, if your family doesn’t allow weapons in the house, playing a video game that involves shooting isn’t a good idea. If the video games allowed in your home contradict your family’s values, it will send a confusing message to your children.

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