How to Get Your Child to Stop Playing Video Games

Published by Internet Addiction Center on

Video games have become part of normal life for our youth, particularly for young males aged 8-12 and up.  Problems begin when video games and screen time start to interfere with school performance, daily chores, family relationships, and friendships. What can you do to get your child to play less if they are playing more than is healthy?  How do you determine if your child has an issue? There are some scales online and one quiz can be found here:

The two basic ways that have been proven to help are therapy, and sometimes medication.

Therapy directed at the family is usually helpful.  Families with either less rules and boundaries or at the other extreme have a lot of coercive control, both need counseling to help guide them towards more neutral ground.  Sometimes a less family resources (both in terms of time or financially) can leave children with no other activities for entertainment. In many cases, community interventions such as organized sports, mobilizing other family members and friends, or after school programs can help provide a safe and healthy alternative.  Individual counseling helps by assisting kids with issues of lack of motivation, poor academic achievement, poor planning and study skills, communication skills and building techniques to cope with stress and anxiety. Group counseling can be especially helpful for teenagers who can find it easier to relate to another peer’s success and then find inspiration for their own growth.   If anxiety and/or depression is present, using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is quite helpful. There are many settings where this treatment can take place including inpatient hospital programs, group counseling centers, residential therapy programs, telepsychiatry/teletherapy and more. Medication may be a helpful treatment for kids who have other issues going on such as depression, anxiety or ADHD.

Evaluation by a board certified child psychiatrist will help determine if a youth may benefit from a medication intervention, and to create a detailed plan based on a thorough evaluation. As you can imagine, it’s hard to participate in therapy if you are so depressed or anxious that you can’t pay attention to the techniques they are teaching you! Treatment of ADHD and sleep problems should also be addressed.

When a child is in need of help, evaluation by a trained specialist such as a child and adolescent psychiatrist is essential in starting the treatment process.  Therapy with a trained professional is critical in retraining individuals and families to create new healthy habits. Medications also have a role when there are other existing conditions present that make benefiting from therapy difficult.