How Do I Prevent My Kid From Being Addicted to Video Games?

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

Parenting is a tough job in the digital age. We are surrounded by technology, video games, and cell phones. The key is to learn how to master technology, but avoid being slaves to technology. We must also monitor our children and be mindful how much time they are spending on video games.

I recommend less than one hour of video game play each day. If moderation is not possible or if the child exhibits signs of addiction, then I recommend complete abstinence.

Moderation is the key to a rewarding and happy life. Too much of anything can be harmful. Let’s consider something we all need: water. In 2007, there was a drinking contest in California with the theme "Hold Your Wee for a Wii.” [1] This promotional stunt resulted in the death of Jennifer Strange after she drank so much water that she diluted her salt (sodium chloride) concentration in her blood. Sodium chloride concentration is important for normal nerve conduction as well as regulating flow of water in and out of the cells via osmosis. When the salt concentration in the blood becomes too dilute, one of the first things that occur is brain swelling, which may eventually lead to death. Even something like water is deadly when taken in excess.

I know firsthand the health and mental manifestations of excessive video game play. I know that excessive video game play is not healthy for the mind and is harmful to the body.

Parents can turn kids into addicts. I have seen families that gave teenagers access to alcohol who later turned into alcoholics. Thus, the earlier we expose kids to excessive gaming, the more likely they will be addicts. Our brains are being rewired through a Skinner rat box model: click the buttons, deliver digital reward, increase euphoria - resulting in the up regulation of memory genes in the brain strengthening the neural pathways associated with addictive behavior and dopamine reward pathway.

Give heroin to a child and you will get a heroin addict. Give weed to a child and you will get someone addicted to pot. Give smokes to a child and you will get an addicted smoker. Have you seen the baby who smokes 40 cigarettes a day and is addicted to smoking and nicotine below? Thus, giving excessive amounts of video games to a child will create a video game addict.


1. BBC News. “Why is too much water dangerous?” BBC. January 15, 2007. Accessed September 2, 2011.

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