Parenting advice: children and video games

Educator Howard Eaton was asked, "how are video games impacting my child's future? My teenager spends an average of about two hours a day playing video games, but at times has spent as much as seven hours a day. Is there hope for teenagers who spend hour after hour playing video games?"  Here is his answer, an answer parents with kids who love video games won't want to miss:

I had been informed that Mr. and Mrs. Davis wanted to see me about a concern of theirs. Their son Adam attended our school, in Grade 7. I walked to the reception area and greeted them. They both seemed to be in a good mood. But, when we got to my office and I shut the door, Mr. Davis looked at me and with a high level of frustration in his voice and said, “I want my child’s inborn talent nourished. Not wasted on Angry Birds! He spends hours launching birds at pigs.”

I couldn’t help but smile. Mrs. Davis smiled, too, but not Mr. Davis.

Well, as you might have guessed, Mr. Davis’ son, Adam, was playing a lot of Angry Birds.
 Mr. Davis was not upset at me, as we have a no video gaming policy at school. Rather, he was annoyed with his son and needed advice. He wanted to know how they could stop him or the birds.The video game had been installed Adam’s desktop, laptop, iPhone and iPad. 

Video games are extremely successful dopamine releasing reward systems.
 In fact, neurologists have recommended that education look into the design of video games to improve learning at the classroom level.  Dopamine is often released in the child's brain when they successfully achieve a level within the video games. This in turn makes them want to achieve a higher level of accomplishment in the video game. There needs to be challenge after challenge in order for video games to have that addictive quality. Most children and parents do not fully understand the neurochemical process of video gaming. What they do know is that their child is playing the video game repetitively and frequently.

I listened to Mr. Davis contemplating a response to the Angry Birds issue.
 Strangely, my mind also went to another issue we had with a girl in Grade 7 at our school. The parents' concern was that she was reading too much and not socializing.  Yes, reading too much. She had a nonverbal learning disability making it frustrating for her to make sense of social situations. I wondered why I was making this association between Angry Birds and reading.  Is it all about doing too much of something? Is this what concerns us as parents? Maybe, but with video gaming there is also the violence issue. 

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