The back of a boys head can be seen as he stares at a TV screen, with game controllers in hand, playing a video game.

Discover the reasons why your child may want to play video games excessively and learn how to support them in finding a balance.

Video games have become a popular form of entertainment for children of all ages in today’s digital age.

While playing video games can be enjoyable and even beneficial in moderation, some children may develop a strong desire to play them all the time. Here are five reasons why a child might want to play video games excessively and how parents can support them to change this behavior:

1. Escape from Reality

Reason: Children may use video games as a way to escape from real-life problems or stressors.

Support: Encourage open communication with your child to understand what they are going through. Help them find healthier ways to cope with stress, such as talking to a trusted adult or engaging in physical activities.

2. Instant Gratification

Reason: Video games provide instant rewards and gratification, which can be addictive for some children.

Support: Teach your child about delayed gratification and the value of working towards long-term goals. Set limits on gaming time and encourage them to engage in activities that require patience and persistence.

3. Social Interaction

Reason: Many video games offer opportunities for social interaction with friends or online players.

Support: Encourage your child to participate in real-life social activities, such as sports or clubs, to foster face-to-face interactions. Schedule playdates with friends to balance virtual and physical socialization.

4. Sense of Achievement

Reason: Video games often provide a sense of achievement and accomplishment through completing tasks and leveling up.

Support: Help your child set achievable goals in real-life activities and praise their efforts and progress. Engage them in activities that build self-esteem and confidence outside of gaming.

5. Entertainment and Fun

Reason: Video games are designed to be engaging and entertaining, making it tempting for children to play them excessively for enjoyment.

Support: Introduce a variety of hobbies and activities to your child to diversify their interests. Encourage outdoor play, creative arts, reading, or other hobbies that promote mental and physical well-being.

While playing video games can be a fun and stimulating activity for children, excessive gaming may lead to negative consequences if not monitored or balanced with other activities. By understanding the reasons behind a child’s desire to play video games all the time and providing appropriate support and guidance, parents can help their children develop healthier habits and find a balance between gaming and other aspects of their lives.

As you begin to notice any patterns or motivations behind turning to video games in your child, start noticing your own triggers for picking up your phone, or playing games.

Are you processing thoughts? Relaxing? Was it something you were able to resist? (Try going just one day without compulsively picking up your phone or getting lost in a game.) No guilt. Just notice.

Your child is no different than you, except that their brain is still developing, and they must have healthy alternatives to something that is wiring their brains toward addictive behavior.

What are some suggestions, ideas, or creative alternatives that you've discovered?

Share your idea below to help other parents. Have you found it hard to resist playing video games? Share what you’ve learned as you started noticing your triggers.