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Building stronger parent-child relationships

kids laying video games

Video Games: A Problem or a Blessing?

Erna Fishhaut

Revised July 2009 by Kathleen A. Olson, Extension Educator — Family Relations. Reviewed May 2016 by Lori Hendrickson, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency.

Do video games help children widen their interests and sharpen their intellectual skills as manufacturers claim? Or do they pose problems that inhibit learning and encourage bad attitudes and habits?

Video games can work for rather than against children. Parents can ensure that this happens by following these guidelines.

By following the above suggestions, you can maximize the positive effects of video games. For instance, they can increase motivation for some children. Also, computers offer quick and clear feedback about performance, with no judgment. Finally, many computer games promote a feeling of mastery for their participants.


American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. (2015, June). Video games and children: Playing with violence, No. 91.

Boyse, K. (2010, August ). Video games. University of Michigan Health System.

Fetter, M. (1984). Television viewing and school achievement. Journal of Communication, 34(2), 104-118.

Van den beck, J. (2004). Television viewing, computer game playing, and internet use and self-reported time to bed and time out of bed in secondary-school children. SLEEP, 27(1), 101-104.

Related resources

Video Games — University of Michigan Health System — Find out how video games affect kids, how the games rating system works, and more.

Video Games and Children: Playing with ViolenceAmerican Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry — Get an overview of the pros and cons of children playing video games, and tips for parents to ensure video games are used appropriately.

Technology and MediaParentFurther — Get tips and strategies for raising media-wise kids, including dealing with video game addiction, sexting, and more.

The Holidays Are Here. Which Apps Will You Share With the Children in Your LifeHarvard Family Research Project — Get ideas for free or low-cost apps to share with your children that are both fun and educational. (Note that while this is written as a "holiday" theme, the apps highlighted are not related to the holidays.) Features a related resource guide.

Teens and the internet— Get tips for talking with your teen about internet use, and learn what you can do to keep your teen safe while online. Part of the Teen Talk : A Survival Guide for Parents of Teenagers series.

Monitoring Tips — Get a better understanding of what monitoring is, why it's important, and modeling strategies you can use to build parent-child relationships.

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