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Raising tweens and teenagers

Tips for communicating effectively with teens, help them build confidence and self-esteem, how to deal with cyber bullying and practical ways to stay safe online

Online computer gaming

Many parents worry about the amount of time children spend playing computer games and the impact of this on their child's learning and wellbeing. Online computer gaming involves playing games, often with other players, over the internet.

Addiction to playing online computer games can have negative consequences for children. It can reduce their ability to concentrate at school, put stress on family relationships, socially isolate them and even affect their health.

Nearly 50% of Australian children with access to the internet after school use it 2-6 days a week and 25% use it every day. On average, children spend 7.9 hours per fortnight playing online games.

Concerns about online computer gaming can stem from fear and unfamiliarity about the gaming subculture that has its own set of rules, social structures and social networks.

Parents are encouraged to be proactive in managing this issue by learning more and talking with their children about it. The Office of the e-Safety Commissioner website includes useful information to help you understand more about online gaming and your kids.

In the meantime, here's some tips to get you started:

  • educate yourself about online gaming – find out what it is and what it means to your child. Be curious and interested; this will help your child understand that you want to know about their life and interests
  • set the computer up in a public area of the house, not in a bedroom, where it will be easier for you to supervise
  • negotiate boundaries and limit the number of hours your child spends playing games. It might work to trial new boundaries for a week and then discuss it again
  • also check the games being played by your child or teen via a mobile or other hand held digital device to help you negotiate what is played, when and for how long
  • assess how online computer gaming is affecting your child. Do they have other friends and social connections, are they performing school and household tasks normally, do they have other interests, and is gaming impacting their health? Are they aware of these effects?
  • if you have concerns, focus on resolving the issue rather than the gaming. For example if your child is lacking sleep, address how they can organise their lives so they get the sleep they need
  • recognise that each generation of parents faces new issues. Think back to your own adolescence and how your parents were concerned about emerging issues for your generation. If you are worried that your child has an addiction to gaming, seek professional help from a counsellor

If you are worried about online computer gaming you can contact Parent Line on 1300 1300 52 for free and confidential telephone counselling.

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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019