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Poll: Teens game too much, but that’s normal

Nearly 90% of parents believe their teen spends too much time playing video games, but also seem to shrug it off as typical adolescent behavior.

The recent C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health asked parents of those 13-18 about the impact of gaming on their teens’ lives. An overwhelming majority of 86% agreed or agreed strongly that their kids are spending too much time gaming. Twice as many parents of teen boys as teen girls (41% to 20%) say their teen plays video games every day.

Parents of teens who played daily reported gaming lengths of more than three hours a day, but 78% believe their teen is gaming less than or about the same as other teens.

Many parents (71%) believe playing video games can be good for teens, but some (44%) try to restrict the content of games.

“What’s most important is for parents to understand that the vast majority agree kids are spending too much time playing video games,” said Dr. Gary Freed, co-director of the poll and a pediatrician at the University of Michigan. “If it’s a concern, it’s a problem.”

If video games are causing a disruption in a teen’s life, disturbing sleep, friendships, homework, responsibilities or extracurricular activities, parents need to communicate what their concerns are, Freed said.

“Parents need to look at their teen’s gaming behavior and set reasonable limits,” he said.

The poll found that parents use different strategies to limit gaming, such as setting time limits and encouraging other behaviors.

“Don’t just dismiss video games as mindless entertainment. Some games are complex and challenging. Make gaming an area for family interaction rather than something that pulls families apart,” Freed said.

When concerned about gaming content, check a site like commonsensemedia.org, which can suggest alternatives to more violent games.

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