Thursday, 3 November 2016

Is my child addicted to gaming?

parenting in a digital age
I was invited to The Think Ahead information sharing session about Gaming at the iStore on Sandton Drive last night.

Is gaming overtaking your child’s life, impacting sleep, health, relationships, academic experiences and general well-being?*
This Think Ahead information session is designed to help parents understand and discover the following:
     •      does your child have a serious gaming “problem”?
     •      why are games so compelling?
     •      how do games affect sleep, learning, memory, relationships and health?
     •      what games teach our children and games’ positive effects
     •      effective processes to help set limits around games  

The topic is extremely relevant today, as our children do not grow up in the same world as we did! We now have to parent in a digital age, where we don't have the experience and know-how of growing up with digital devices and technology.

Pam Macmillan, currently Edtech coach at St Stithians Boys’ College and Greg Crighton, an educational psychologist with extensive experience in schools and private practice, gave some solid advice to parent with regards gaming and children. The "trick" is to be involved and to set up negotiated ground rules from a young age.

There are some negatives of gaming!

But the good far outweighs the bad!

Take control as a parent by sitting down with your child to discuss and negotiate time management. It boils down to having open conversations with your children. Take the time to "walk-through" the games (YouTube videos etc) and to play it with them. To use gaming as punishment (by taking it away), is not as effective as rather using it as a reward system: "The sooner your chores/homework are done, the sooner you can play and have a longer play time!"
It has been found that balanced children who play games, but also take part in other activities, such as sport and culture, are achieving better academically.

Pam Macmillan
Parenting controls with regards gaming:

- Put parental controls in place

- Encourage a balanced lifestyle

- Games should be a privilege, not a right

- Develop and maintain open communication

- Don't over react

- Encourage responsibility

- Choose the environment

- Educate yourself

- Play games with your child

The positives far outweighs the negatives with regards gaming and children. As in everything else in life, we need balance! We can provide the balance as parents!

Some final notes: Visual learning is effective! Gamification of learning is important in the future!  The brain selectively remembers, choosing the most stimulating moments of the day (memory and attention). To transfer the focal attention to the learning situation makes 100% sense. The learning outcomes are less important than the process. Pam Macmillan concluded to say that the benefits of learning with devices far outweighs the disadvantages!

*No, my child is not yet addicted to gaming, but I can start conversations with her about screen time, and balance in life! "Phew!"


  1. Thank you so much for your wonderful summary of our presentation. This is one of the difficult challenges we face as parents in this digital age.

    1. Thanks, Pam, for the presentation! I walked away feeling we need to get MORE into gaming, not less! It is just about the time management, and being involved as a parent! :-)

  2. Pam Macmillan is a wealth of knowledge. Sorry I missed the presentation but this is a great summary. Thank you!

  3. One of the most common conversations we have with our parents of scholars today - Just how much screen time is healthy and at what point does addiction replace healthy engagement and usage?

    1. Thanks for this Heather! It was mentioned several times that we need to keep the conversation open with our children, and let them be involved with deciding how much is healthy! This discussion should be sooner (at a young age already) rather than later!

  4. One of the most common conversations we are having with boys' parents today - at what point is healthy engagement with technology replaced with addiction and obsession?

  5. Some great advice - thanks!

  6. I think most of our young ones are already junkies when it comes to technology...I do believe that if they spend enough time playing outside it will still balance them.


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