If you know someone who plays video games regularly, the question “How much is too much?” has probably crossed your mind at some point.
While there’s no hard or fast rule to how much time someone should play video games, there’s no denying that Americans are playing more video games than ever before. According to a national survey by Statista, a market and consumer data company, video game playing time has increased nearly 20 percent since the start of the pandemic, and one in nine people are gaming 20 hours or more a week.
In a recent episode of “Connections with Evan Dawson,” produced by WXXI News, Dawson talked with experts in the gaming industry about the increase in Americans’ activities and how to keep video gaming a healthy part of someone’s life.
Experts had different opinions on how much people should play. But they did all agree it’s a good idea to ask the gamer in your life why they choose to game. For example, they could be playing to connect with friends or foster teamwork, or they could be playing to escape the pressures of school or work and “let off steam.”
In addition, keeping behaviors in balance is key. If video games start to crowd out other important areas of their life like taking care of themself or performing in school or work, it could be a sign of something more serious. If you begin to see a decline in someone’s relationships, general self-care, or emotional maturity, it could be time to have a conversation with them.
It was also emphasized how important it is for educators to promote positive technology experiences. Children are entering a highly digitized world. So instead of demonizing video games and saying kids shouldn’t play them, educators should think through how they can incorporate them in the classroom in a constructive and positive way.
Below are some other ways to keep video game playing healthy, no matter the age:
Set limits: Many experts agree that about two hours a day is a healthy threshold. Setting limits on how late to play, who to play with, and how many days a week are also good ideas.
Play together: Getting together with friends and loved ones makes gaming a social event rather than a solitary activity.
Engage in alternatives: Make sure to balance time playing with other activities like exercising, reading, or going outside.