Parentline plus launches top tips for children addicted to gaming

A recent report on online gaming by Sweden’s Youth Care Foundation described the extremely popular multi-player game World of Warcraft as “more addictive than crack cocaine” and will help parents to develop strategies to tackle this phenomenon.

Jeremy Todd, Parentline Plus Chief Executive, said:

“Parentline Plus recognises that parents with teenagers can find it difficult to cope at times and online gaming can lead to conflict within families if agreements about usage are not made and adhered to. Our Top Tips will help parents improve their relationships with teenagers and resolve any potential arguments around online gaming that may arise.”

Parentline plus online gaming top tips

  • Always have the computer in public room such as living room.
  • Check the content of the game before you buy. Provide games that are educational rather than violent. Just as you wouldn’t dream of allowing your children to watch an 18-certificate film, ‘18’ games for the X-Box or PlayStation will also contain inappropriate content, graphic language and violence. Suggest games like ‘Mario’ or ‘FIFA World Cup’ which don’t contain violence.
  • Encourage gaming in groups, rather than as a solitary activity. This will lead to children and adolescents talking and working together.
  • Come to an agreement about time limits. Gaming can be a great release from homework and other pressures but so can kicking a ball about or riding a bike. Resist using gaming as a substitute babysitter when you’re busy or for a quiet life.
  • To avoid arguments on both sides, parents need to understand that online games often can’t just be ‘stopped’ in mid-flow – players may be part of a ‘team’ or need to get to a certain place in the game to ‘save’. Rather than a ‘Right, time’s up’ approach, remind them when there’s 10 minutes left so they can start thinking about when and where to stop.
  • Make sure children sit at least two feet from the screen, play games in a well-lit room, never have the screen at maximum brightness, and stop when they’re feeling tired.
  • To avoid your child/teenager playing at night when you’re in bed, don’t let them keep the computer in their rooms, advises The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP). Keep it in a family room. This also allows you to monitor the games they’re playing.
  • Get involved: Talk to your child about what they’re playing and how they should behave when they are gaming. They should be encouraged not to accept ‘cheats’ or talk to people that they don’t know in the real world. If anyone asks them to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable they should come straight to you.
  • Make sure you continue to do things as a family, such as sitting down at the table to eat meals together or, if possible, having a weekly cinema/DVD night.
  • Establish some computer house rules: No meals at the computer, homework must be done before playing, and so on.
  • Talk to your child about why they are spending so much time online, and what they are doing. Try and find and encourage your child into an offline activity that links in with their online interests. For example children who enjoy role-play fantasy games might equally enjoy reading fantasy fiction or playing traditional fantasy board games.
  • If all else fails, temporarily prohibit gaming and then allow them to play again on a part-time basis when appropriate.

If you are the parent of a teenager and need advice on teenager issues, you can contact us for support any time through our helpline on 0808 800 2222, or via email or live chat.