Video games have been with us for well over a generation now.  Many parents have been around long enough to have played through their own parents’s concerns for gaming while growing up themselves.  Still, parents may wonder how to think through today’s games. On one end is, “I did fine with them,” and not give much of a thought to their own kids’ playing. Alternatively, the realism and depth of interaction available in today’s games may warrant a different concern.

When thinking about whether video games may be a problem, a better means of measurement than time is responsibility. While many say that today’s games are different from before, our responsibilities and tasks of development are largely the same. If responsibilities are met, if friendships are being developed, and interests are being pursued, then playing games may even enhance these same life activities.

Looking at game play this way gives families and individuals a better understanding and more fluid control over gaming, than by a time related approach, for example. If grades are falling or if social activities are lost, one may even use these as conditions for future game play.  It may be easier to enforce a game related limit when you can have a discussion about responsibilities than about arbitrary time distinctions.

Games and playing can even be a means of learning. Consider joining your child in play. It can help provide not only a means of knowing a game’s natural divisions where limits may be enforced, it can also foster a connection with your child while you can learn their process of learning.  What games they are playing, how they are playing, how they connect to others, and what they enjoy are all available when you play together.

Kourosh Dini, MD

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Kourosh Dini, MD is a Chicago-based psychiatrist and therapist trained in adult, child, and adolescent psychiatry.

He is the winner of Mom's Choice and National Parenting Publications Awards for his book, Video Game Play and Addiction: A Guide for Parents.