Excessive gaming can lead to depression, addictive behavior


As a parent, it’s hard to know when something that could be fun for a kid becomes too much of a good thing and morphs into a bad thing. My middle child loves playing Angry Birds. But as a child, or even as an adult, you can become obsessed with video games.

At what point is it harmless fun and at what point does it become a real problem? The Journal of Pediatrics reported on a study done over the course of 2 years with kids of all different age levels that monitored their gaming habits and how those habits affected their behavior. Researchers found there is a threshold of video game playing beyond which a kid or young adult can cause themselves real serious psychological harm.

The harm can go all the way to depression and addiction. In fact, the language the journal uses is that a kid can become a “compulsive gamer,” kind of the equivalent of being an addicted or compulsive gambler.

So what level of gaming is acceptable? The maximum healthy level of play time that’s advisable is about 2 hours a day, no more than 2 and a half a day. That’s the point at which kids are not as likely to get into a bad cycle.

As a parent, you need to pay attention to this stuff. Of course, every kid is different and I’m giving you the most general guidelines; you need to know your own child.

But it’s a good question: Is more than 2 hours a day of video game play a good and productive thing (not to mention a happy thing) for your kids? I think the answer would be no.

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