In a nutshell: Do you think that your teenager spends too much time playing video games? You’re not alone. A new report shows that 86 percent of parents say their kids play games an excessive amount, but three-quarters believe gaming has a positive impact on their children.
The data comes from the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children’s health. It surveyed almost 1,000 parents with at least one child aged between 13 and 18.
While more girls are into gaming than ever before, it seems teenage boys spend more time in front of the screen. The poll showed 41 percent of teen boys played games every day, while the figure falls to 20 percent for adolescent girls.
More than half of the parents whose children played games daily said their child spent at least three hours gaming each day, though 78 percent of these felt it was about the same amount of time as other teens.
"Although many parents believe video games can be good for teens, they also report a number of negative impacts of prolonged gaming," says Mott Poll co-director and pediatrician Dr. Gary Freed.
Some of the negative impacts parents believed were caused by gaming include interfering with family activities (46 percent), affecting sleep (44 percent), cutting down on homework (34 percent), stopping teens spending time with non-gaming peers (33 percent), and extracurricular activities (31 percent). Additionally, 42 percent of parents said gaming negatively affects their teens’ mood.
Some parents (44 percent) try to restrict what games their children play. Methods include using age ratings to ensure the titles are appropriate, encouraging real-world play with friends, and not allowing gaming in their teen’s bedroom.
While most of the report sounds like mothers and fathers want their children to cut down on gaming time, 70 percent of parents said they believe video games can have positive impacts on teens, though they didn’t say what these were. We know that other studies have shown playing games can improve educational skills and help create friendships.
Dr. Freed did warn that some teens, such as those with attention issues, may be susceptible to the constant positive feedback and the stimulus of video games, which could lead to gaming interfering with other areas of their lives.
'Parents can play an important role by setting clear rules about appropriate content and how much time is too much time spent on video games,' Dr. Freed said
'While many parents see benefits in gaming, the activity should not be at the expense of face-to-face time with family, friends, and teachers who play a pivotal role in promoting a teen's learning and healthy development.'