Giuseppe Lavenia is a psychologist, psychotherapist, university professor and president of Di.Te. (Technological dependence, GAP, cyberbullying)
A desperate scream, whims à gogo and aggressions? These could just be some of the attitudes that a child may exhibit if they spend too much time, perhaps alone, in front of video games.
How much time is too much? The guidelines
First of all, it’s good to define how much “too much” time is. There are guidelines for this aspect: according to a Canadian study published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Healtha child can spend a maximum of 120 minutes in front of the screen.
But this does not apply to all children, much depends on age: the Italian Society of Pediatricians recommends that devices not be used until they are two years old, that children between 2 and 5 years should not use them for more than one hour if day and less than two hours a day for those between 5 and 8 years. The reason is that the more hours you spend in front of the screen, and not just video games, the greater the chance that children’s cognitive development is lower. Studies on this aspect are still ongoing.
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Because he does not want to stop playing
One thing is for sure, one should examine why the child has manifestations of anger, aggression, irritation and frustration and does not want to stop watching the video game. Another sure thing is that these attitudes should not be confused with an addiction, it is not certain that there are extremes to define it as such. The first thing to do is to give clear and precise rules, without having to negotiate them every day, about the use of time in front of a screen.
The presence of the parents is important
It is important to spend time with your children while playing video games: it allows adults to observe and notice many unspoken children. You can play with them, or sit with them and ask questions about what they like about that game, what attracts them so much, what they think about the rules of the game, or how they interact with other players, for example. This will help adults understand how their children are feeling in front of the screen.
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How do they use video games?
Another aspect to examine is for what purpose they use video games. For free time after school? To get in touch with friends? To escape moments of stress or to dampen a disappointment? Or is it because the child feels valued by the other peers involved in the play, or because it has managed to create its own space where others recognize him as the leader? These are also issues that need to be addressed: they will help parents better understand why they are showing frustration, anger, or other emotions that make them irritable or temperamental.
Video games do not have to be demonized, some are also very informative. Moreover, seeing how our child plays, how it moves in the game pattern can also reveal unspoken in everyday life, such as tensions built up for reasons that the parents do not yet know.
What to do?
How can we help our children use video games consciously? First of all, let’s avoid making hasty judgments, and not suddenly take the video game away with threats. It is useless and is not good for either party, neither for children nor adults. Instead, let’s try to learn more about the games that our children like, and let’s not forget to look at PEGI (the classification of video games that allows us to know if that game is appropriate for our child’s age). , but this classification does not take into account the degree of difficulty). There are both video games that activate children more, but there are also some that have a “calming” effect: they could be offered to play this last category of video games together if, for example, they are particularly excited at this stage of their lives . life.
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And if the child still continues to exhibit aggression or difficult behavior, both during play and after playing it, then why should he like to spend more time in front of the screen? It is important to set time limits, and it is just as important that children learn to have a sense of time to build healthy habits. Never let them play an hour before bedtime as it may interfere with sleep. And it is important that they get a restful rest. Another question we adults should ask ourselves is, what example do we set for our children? How do we use the devices?
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The warning signs
Do you not start school, do not eat properly, or do you no longer have good personal hygiene? It is a gambling disorder when “the pattern of behavior must be of sufficient severity to cause significant impairment of personal, family, social, educational, professional or other important areas of functioning for at least 12 months,” as claimed by the WHO, the World Health Organization. Here, if these signs are present, then it is good to consult a mental health professional.