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Welcome to the The Cap – our very own recap series of the topics and trends impacting teens and tweens today dedicated to keeping the common parent in the know.
📮 In today's Issue, we cover the love/hate relationship with video games:
🎮  What is it?
Video games are electronic games played on an array of devices & screens from smartphones to gaming consoles to computers to TVs to VR headsets. More than 3 billion people worldwide play video games and over 79% of Gen Z and Gen Alpha are active video gamers.
In today’s digital age, it’s no surprise that teens and tweens spend countless hours gaming. There have never been so many gaming options at their fingertips. And during the pandemic’s lockdowns, video games skyrocketed as the entertainment of choice for many teens and tweens.
As parents we often nag our kids and hold negative space around the amount of time they spend video gaming. So, we wanted to dig a bit deeper to better answer the question: 
Is gaming bad for our kids?

🚨 Why it matters
Gaming has been linked to both positive and negative effects in kids and there are legitimate arguments for and against allowing kids to game.
🚫 Negative:
The commonly heard conversation and research around gaming is that it causes the following in youth gamers:
  • addiction aka “Gaming Disorder”
  • disruption to sleep
  • lower performance at school
  • physical injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and “gamers thumb"
  • obesity
  • reduced social skills
  • violence & aggression
  • desensitization to violence and gun violence
  • exposure to adult content and mature themes
It is important to note that the type of video games can be a major factor in creating negative gaming behavior. For example, a child who regularly engages in violent fantasy in the gaming world may be more likely to think, say, or do something aggressive or unkind if he is bumped accidentally by someone in the hallway at school.

✅ Positive:
Video games can actually provide an opportunity for you and your child to play together and bond through a fun activity.  They can also increase your child's self confidence and self esteem as they master games and skills. 
Video games can also create a sense of community with fellow gamers for kids who can’t find that sense of connection at school or in other social settings. 
Not only can video games be used for entertainment, relaxation and collaborative leisure time, but there is also research showing that video gaming can improve the following:
  • cognitive skills involving impulse control and working memory
  • hand–eye coordination, fine motor and spatial skills
  • problem-solving skills
  • ability to process information
  • computer learning
  • efficiency in visual processing
  • multitasking
  • resource management & logistics
  • thinking skills in adolescents with ADHD
Video games are also fertile ground for serious competition. With the rise of Esports, colleges are recruiting and handing out scholarships to high-level gamers to compete in Esports on behalf of their school. Skilled gaming can even lead to a professional career as a Pro Esports Player with contracts, endorsements and prize money. 💰

🎒 The Cap
Gaming alone isn’t the problem. It’s the gaming without taking part in real-life activities, hobbies, interests and socializing that can lead to serious consequences.
Here’s what you can do as a parent or guardian to help create a healthy relationship with gaming for your teen or tween:
  • ⏱️  Create time restrictions.
  • 🎓  Keep an eye on their school performance.
  • 💲  Monitor how much money they spend on gaming.
  • 🎮  Sit in on a gaming session to see what kind of content they’re consuming.
  • 🏅  Encourage physical exercise and activities out of the house.
  • 📵  Encourage activities and extracurriculars that involve social skills.
  • 💤  Make sure video games don’t disrupt important sleep patterns and healthy routines.
  • 🔎  Watch for signs of addiction & withdrawal like obsession, cravings, headaches, and mood swings.

☀️ The good news
Video gaming is your opportunity to teach your child the art of moderation. Do you want them sitting in front of the screen 24/7?  No. Will it be the end of the world if gaming turns out to be one of their favorite extracurriculars? Probably not. But, allowing too much gaming poses risks to your child's physical, mental and emotional well-being and removes them from the real world they will need to function in. 

Ensuring moderation in both the time they spend gaming as well as the types of games they play can help minimize gaming's negative impacts and allow it to be the hobby (and often escape) that your teen may need as they grapple with everything the world throws at them.

Click the link below to check out our interview with Cam Adair & Jordan Shapiro on “How to Integrate Gaming and Technology Into Your Child’s Life in a Healthy Way”.
Sources on adolescent video gaming:

Founders of The Common Parent: Catherine Belknap and Natalie Telfer (Cat & Nat)
The Cap Contributors:  Catherine Belknap, Natalie Telfer, Kelly Kresen, Cath Tassie, Lauren Bechard, Sam Phelan and Allie Coughlin
Special Thanks to Cam Adair

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The contents of The Cap and The Common Parent platforms ("Content") are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, therapy, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your situation.