Health Advice



Mayo Clinic Q and A: Children and video games

Cynthia Weiss, Mayo Clinic News Network on

Published in Health & Fitness

If you are seeing any of these signs, it may be time to revisit your approach to your son's behaviors and use of screens.

You'll need to decide how much media to let your child use each day and what's appropriate based on your son's reactions. Set reasonable limits for your child's screen time and video game types, especially if your child's use of screens hinders involvement in other activities.

Also encourage active screen time over passive screen time. Active screen time is when you interact with other people you know, or when you are cognitively or physically engaged. For example, play educational games, or games that require players to build something together — or fitness-type games that require movement while playing. Passive screen time includes watching screens with minimal cognitive engagement, such as scrolling through social media or watching online videos.

Consider these tips:

• Follow guidelines for screen time, such as those suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

• Model healthy use of screens and video games. Consider unplugging when you first get home from work, at dinner and when driving. Model other methods of relaxation and entertainment, such as taking a walk, playing a game, having a dance party or reading a book.

• Encourage a balance between screen time and activities that require in-person social interactions, such as family activities or extracurricular activities.

• Create structured, screen-free times, such as during mealtimes, in the mornings and before bedtime.

• Consider using apps that control the length of time your child can use a device.


• Keep screens out of bedrooms.

• Require that all devices be charged outside of bedrooms at night.

• Learn about the game rating categories and only allow your children to play video games suitable for their ages.

If you're concerned about a child or loved one's use of screen time, consulting a behavioral or addictions specialist can help determine treatment options.

— Fiona Swanson , Social Services, Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, Minnesota


Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding, along with guidelines and recommendations, may have changed since the original publication date.


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