Monitoring your child’s video game intake

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

There are always new video games being created and released.  Many of these video games are graphic, violent, or have other explicit content in them that simply are not fit for little kids, yet many parents don’t take the time to review them before purchasing.

With the holidays approaching (with many video games on your child’s wish-list) and more and more video games being released, we simply ask you to be responsible when it comes to letting your kids play video games.  Monitor what they are seeing and monitor how much time they are spending on playing.  Not sure how to start doing that? We’ve compiled some tips below on how to best monitor your child’s gaming intake.

1. Preview the game before you let your child play. Just like you would screen a movie or check out a home that you were sending your child to, so should you preview the game and see what it includes. Is it educational? Is it violent or graphic, or inappropriate for your child’s developmental level? Most games now have parental ratings to help you with these questions, but just to be sure, you should read up on the game, review it, and make sure that you are ok with it before letting your child see and play it.

2. Set time limits. Before you let your child game, be strict about how much time they are allowed to play. If the kids are allowed to play one hour a day, stick to that, no questions asked. If they whine or try to negotiate, restate the time limit. If they aren’t okay with that, then consider unplugging the game and putting it away until they are ready to game within your designated time limit.

3. When time runs out, have some new activities planned. When the game time limit is up, your kids will probably try to negotiate for more time or they might be upset that the time has ended so quickly. So, when the time is up, suggest alternative activities that they will enjoy. Maybe they’d like to read a new book, go play outside, do a craft with you, or would like to run a special errand with you.


Monitoring your child’s gaming is probably not as hard as you might think.  Don’t let the game console be in a place where they can play it unsupervised (such as their room). Instead, keep it in a public place, like the front living room, so you are sure to see them using it at all times. Playing games can be fun and a great way to entertain and educate children, but gaming needs to be done in moderation. So, take steps towards setting boundaries – it is a wise and necessary thing to do.


By Brooke Strickland