Tampa Therapist | Understanding Why Kids May Turn To Video Games
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Video Games: Understanding Why So Many Kids Turn to Them

Consider the following story as it relates to this week’s topic.

Alex really enjoys his video games. My husband and I usually buy him one as a reward for good grades in school or completing his chores. The great thing about it is that I’ve noticed he isn’t like many kids who spend hours playing while in their room. Whenever it’s time for dinner, he’ll be down promptly. If the yard needs mowing or the trash is full, he’ll take care of it without being asked twice. I have no problems at all with his video game use, just as long as it doesn’t get in the way of family and school. It’s just that he plays so many of them. Is there any particular reason why?

Rice Video Game Competition

If your child indulges in regular video game use, you might be wondering if there are any drawbacks. You can rest easy, because a recent study conducted by Dr. Andrew Przybylski of Oxford found that children playing video games for about an hour a day enhanced their psychological well-being, whereas playing for over three hours did the opposite.

If you feel that your child is “addicted” to video games, it may be an overindulgence instead. Click To Tweet

So, in other words, a moderate amount of use per day can be beneficial, while overuse can be detrimental. If you feel that your child is “addicted” to video games, it may be an overindulgence instead. Our psychologists in Tampa want to go over what constitutes an addiction and an overindulgence in video gaming. We’ll also discuss why kids love playing them so much.

Addiction vs. Overindulgence

If something isn’t causing serious harm or some form of impairment to one’s daily functioning, then it isn’t an addiction. If your child plays video games several hours a day but still knows they need to do their homework or take care of chores, and they actually go through with it (albeit with a sour attitude, but which teen doesn’t?), then it’s probably an overindulgence. A video game addiction is entirely different, and much more serious.

Why do kids play video games in the first place?

What Video Games Offer

According to psychologists Richard Ryan and Edward Deci, people need three important factors to help them flourish:

  • Competence – Needing to master, achieve and grow.
  • Autonomy – Wanting volition and freedom of control.
  • Relatedness – Wanting to matter to others and vice versa.

In school, kids may not be getting any, let alone all, of the above needs met. On a daily basis, kids are told what to do in class, where to go and what to study. They’re being taught subjects that they sometimes find little interest in and aren’t motivated to learn about. However, keep in mind that this isn’t always the case. Different teachers, schools and even countries can create factors where kids react differently.

And then kids come home and may go straight into other structured activities where, again, they don’t have much autonomy. Coaches or tutors are telling them what to do as well. Or perhaps they come home but aren’t necessarily allowed to play outside with friends. Here, they’d build a range of competencies, play independently in games of their choice or creation and feel connected to others. So how do they meet their needs if they’re forced to stay inside?

Video games.

How Video Games Come into Play

Gamers experience competence when they achieve their goals in whatever they’re playing. Click To Tweet

Gamers experience competence when they achieve their goals in whatever they’re playing. They also experience autonomy by doing what they want and experiencing different scenarios to win matches. Relatedness comes into play since many gamers connect through online matches where teamwork is necessary.

Kids will meet their psychological needs somehow, no matter how adults feel about their choices. Click To Tweet

The more that adults understand about what draws kids to video games and the important needs they’re trying to fill, the more we can support them. We should also keep our eyes peeled for other ways, outside of gaming, that kids can get what they need out of life.

What You Can Do

Here are a few things you can do to help your child’s video gaming be positive:

  • Spend some time watching your child play video games, and even join in on the fun! This can open up a dialogue where they can guide you through an online match or two, giving your son or daughter a sense of competency.
  • Allow your child to set a video game time period for themselves. Get an idea of what she/he thinks is too much gaming while you’re at it.
  • Become a model of support and not an obstacle in your kid’s video gaming adventures. Don’t stop them unless it’s absolutely necessary, because remember, they’re having fun.

 Child Psychologists Tampa

If your child is spending too much time playing video games, you are most certainly not alone. If you’re unsure of how to go about addressing the situation, then we want to hear from you. Our licensed psychologists and mental health counselors in Tampa want to help you both feel better about what you’re going through. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

About Rice Psychology

Rice Psychology Group is home to a team of psychologists who work tirelessly to help adults, adolescents and children deal with their issues. Whether you’re currently dealing with depression, going through a divorce or fighting an issue you just can’t understand, know that our Tampa psychologists are here to help.

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