As a parent, you’ve probably wondered, or even worried, about the effect video games and television have on your children. As part of the preparation and planning for your child (or, children) academic experience, and their transition into a fulfilling IT career, you’ll want to thoughtfully monitor your child’s screen time to ensure that they maintain a balanced life.

video games

Both video games and TV have been linked to various negative effects. Among them are:

  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Lowered grades
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Short attention spans
  • Lowered social skills

The goal here is not to scare you (think you need to ban video games and TV from your home); instead consider how to strike a healthy balance between school and entertainment.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (A.A.P.) recommends that kids under age two have no screen time, and that kids older than two years old watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming.

You might realize that those 2 hours could add up very quickly when you consider that they include schoolwork completed on a computer. For this reason, your family might have to get creative about how to manage screen time.

How Can I Encourage My Child to Use Video Games and TV Smartly?

Talk to your child about your concerns, and try to reach a consensus about how much screen time is appropriate. Some other healthy habits you can adopt as a family include:

  • Keeping your child’s bedroom TV-free
  • Talking with each other—not watching TV—during meals
  • Limiting or eliminating “background” TV. If no one is watching, shut it off
  • Setting a good example and not watching lots of TV yourself
  • If you see your child’s grades start to suffer, talking about limiting TV and video game time
  • Focusing on the positive: Encourage activities that enrich your child’s life, and talk to them about it

Aren’t Some Video Games and TV shows Educational or “Skill-Building”?

Yes, some television shows are educational and some video games have been thought to increase hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Your child might also be interested in developing video games for a living. And these activities can be a small part of your child’s overall learning experience.

For most students, the main path to IT success is through the coursework they’re assigned in high school and college (as well as IT-related extracurricular activities they pick up, such as chess or music). Help your child by reminding them of their long-term career goals in IT, and the specific (and often exciting) steps that will lead them there.