AHS Weekly Wellness News: Youth and Video Games


Research has shown that playing video games (or “gaming”) can affect youth in both good and bad ways.

Playing certain video games can help youth develop thinking and fine motor skills and manage anger and stress. However, gaming can also result in lower grades and reduce the time spent with family and friends. Video game play can take away time from other healthy activities and sometimes may encourage youth to act aggressively.

It is up to parents to help their teen learn to enjoy video games safely and responsibly. The following questions will help parents decide whether video games are a problem for their young person:

·      Is your teen playing too much? Does gaming interfere with chores, school, work, family time? Too much gaming takes time away from sports, hobbies, sleep and other healthy activities.

·      Does the game fit with the household norms or values? Games that include aggression, bullying, violence and discrimination can influence a young person’s developing beliefs.

Here are some ways in which parents can teach their youth to play video games appropriately:

·      Make sure play comes AFTER important tasks like chores, school, work, meals and family time.

·      Ensure play happens in a central location, not a bedroom, so it can be monitored.

·      Set and enforce a time limit on play.

·      Discuss with your teen the types of games that are acceptable to you.

·      Play together. Playing video games as a family can be fun and allows parents to role model appropriate behaviour and monitor play.

·      Balance video game time with other fun family activities. Invite your teen to go for a walk or a coffee, throw a ball around, go for a bike ride, play a board game, cook a meal, watch a movie or do a puzzle together.

Alberta Health Services