Boys tend to love gaming, but is playing video games affecting their motivation and social skills?  Here are some guidelines for appropriate use of video games.

Video Games

Boys and Video Games

We live in a world of technology.  There is no escaping the fact that technology is everywhere and for our children, that means video games are everywhere.  There has been a lot of debate lately on the effects of video games on our children and whether or not we should have technology limits and guidelines that our kids need to follow. It seems as though everyone has an opinion on what is best. Several recent studies have shown that video games are helping to drive a growing epidemic of unmotivated boys and that there is a correlation between the amount of time spent playing video games and poor school performance.

According to research, boys play on average 13.4 hours of video games per week while girls average 5 hours.  Researchers from Yale university have reported that playing violent video games leads directly “to aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, and cardiovascular arousal, and to decreases in helping behavior.”  And researchers have found that playing violent video games is worse than watching violence on television because when a boy is playing a violent video game, he is the one inflicting death and destruction. (Resources and affiliate links listed below).

Dr Leonard Sax, author of Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men,  talks about the negative affects that video games are having on our sons and the guidelines we can set so that our boys use video games appropriately.

Guidelines for Appropriate Use of Video Games

  1. Look at the Content –  What is the video game rated based on the video game industry’s rating system and what kind of content is your child viewing?  According to Dr. Sax, video games rated “M” for mature, shouldn’t be played by anyone under the age of 18 and just because something is T or E rated doesn’t mean it is appropriate.  Even cartoonish violence can have the same effect as the most graphic violent games.
  2. Limit Time – Limit video game playing to 40 minutes on school nights and an hour on other days, after homework and other chores have been completed.
  3. Know Priorities – Make sure your son has priorities outside of video games. Family should come first followed by schoolwork and friends.  If your child is neglecting friendships outside of the gaming world or refusing to participate in family life because he is in the middle of a game, then his priorities are not in order.
  4. Other Constructive Outlets – Give your son other outlets for his desire to compete.  Some boys enjoy video games because of their desire to compete.  Offer alternatives such as competitive sports or school team competitions.  Most schools have different clubs that compete with other schools in the area.
  5. Help Them Understand Reality – In a video game, you can walk away from the destruction you cause, but in real life you can’t. Don’t let the video game world become more real to them than the actual world.
  6. Watch for Obsession – Obsession can be described as a loss of control.  In some cases, a boy may know that he shouldn’t be spending so much time playing video games, but he might not be able to stop.  In situations like this, he needs help to overcome his obsession and to be able to bring his focus back to the things that are important in life.

Video games have become a part of life to many children, and by using these guidelines  we can help our children to use video games appropriately and not have their gaming become an obsession or lead to anti-social or violent behavior.

Video Games

What Video Game Guidelines Have You Set for Your Children?


    • Craig Anderson, “An Update on the Effects of Playing Violent Video Games,” Journal of Adolescence, Volume 27, pp.113-122, 2004
    • Eric Uhlmann, “Exposure to Violent Video Games Increases Automatic Aggressiveness,” Journal of Adolescence, volume 27, pp. 41-52 2004
    • Douglas Gentile, Paul Lynch, Jennifer Ruh Linder and David Walsh, “The Effects of Violent Video Game Habits on Adolescent Hostility, Aggressive Behaviors, and School Performance,” Journal of Adolescence, volume 27, pp. 5-22.
    • Leonard Sax. M.D. Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men

This post is a part of our series 31 Days of Tips for Raising Boys. Each day throughout the series we are discussing a different topic regarding raising boys.  I’d love for you to follow along and share this series with other parents of boys who may need some support or just to hear that they aren’t alone in their journey of raising boys.

Find all of our posts in one place on our series home page:  31 Days of Tips for Raising Boys

Tips for Raising Boys