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How to Manage Gaming Habits for Kids

Published: October 9, 2023

Do your kids play video games? If so, you’ve likely had trouble deciding how to limit their screen time, what games they should or shouldn’t play, and how to keep track of what they’re exposed to on a day-to-day basis. As a parent, it’s important to pay attention to the games your children are spending their time on. This article from NPR’s Yuki Noguchi explains the specific risks associated with video games. Experts say screen time on a video game is quite different from what you’ll find browsing social media or watching tv — but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The games children play are always changing, and if you’re struggling to keep up, you’re not alone. A good first step is to ask your child if you can play with them. “Every expert I spoke with recommended playing video games with your child to figure out what might specifically be motivating them to play — the needs the game might fill for them,” Noguchi explained. “Online chess, for example, is a different experience than a multiplayer game with friends. Shy children might find it easier to socialize in games. Another child might regard it as stress relief. Some children may use games as a place to escape or process a difficult situation.”

Educating yourself and your family members about the risks involved with gambling-like features in video games is another great way to ensure that your kids develop the skills necessary to keep their gaming responsible. 

Early exposure to gambling can have big implications on a child’s future, and not many parents know about it. Sixty-six percent of parents report that they “rarely or never” have conversations with their children about gambling. But the conversation is important because the issue often goes beyond traditional gambling to activities like video games, which can mimic the sounds and sensations of gambling. 

Other risk factors include: 

  • Financial incentives: Purchases in video games replicate real-life gambling opportunities that could lead to lifelong issues for the young people exposed to them. It’s important to watch out for video games that are designed to be played nonstop and keep players coming back.
  • “Free-to-Play” opportunities: These games don’t require a purchase to download and play. But, once downloaded, players are pressured to spend money on upgrade items. It’s important to check in on the games your kids are playing to make sure they’re aware of how microtransactions can lead to real-life consequences. For more common terminology, download the Parent’s Guide to Gaming Slang.
  • Social pressure: Kids often want to stay online to participate in games for the social aspect. If you find they’re staying up too late or having trouble focusing, make sure to set aside intentional non-screen time for the whole family.

During Communicate with Your Kids Month this October, you can find excellent resources for learning how to start the conversation about youth gambling and gaming and more at  The website is also a great place to learn the facts about the risks of youth gambling and find impactful ways to ensure your kids develop a responsible relationship with video games to minimize the risk of problems later on in life.

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