Digital Safety Alliance | Nicklaus Childrens Hospital

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Tips for Keeping Your Kids Off Video Games Over the Summer
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By: Digital Safety Alliance
June 28th, 2024

Limiting the amount of time your kids play video games during the summer holidays can be a challenge, especially when they have an abundance of free time and you probably don’t. But while setting healthy limits on how often they can play can be a challenge, the benefits are worth it – for your kids and you.
Between 90% and 99% of all American children play video games. About four-in-ten US teens say they play video games daily, including 23% who do so several times a day. While more recent data is limited, a 2009 study estimated that 8.5% of children and teenagers under 18 around the world might be addicted to gaming. Given the increased usage of all forms of technology by young people since then, it’s safe to assume the percentage of young people addicted to video games has increased.
While it can be tempting to allow your kids to play video games as much as they want to over the summer – especially if it keeps them quiet or helps you get work done or have some quiet time to yourself – letting them do so can raise significant concerns.
How Excessive Video Gaming Can Negatively Affect Your Kids
If your kids spend too much time gaming, they can develop physical health issues such as poor posture, eye strain, and repetitive strain injuries, as well as poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle, which can contribute to obesity and related problems. They may also experience disrupted sleep patterns, which can lead to fatigue. While this might not be quite as big an issue over the summer, it can set them up for a bad routine and difficulty concentrating once school resumes. If they are too tired to focus in school and/or spend time gaming when they should be doing homework or studying, their educational engagement and grades can suffer.
Social development is another concern, as excessive video gaming can cause kids to prefer virtual interactions to face-to-face relationships, leading to impaired social skills and social isolation. The more isolated your kids become, the more at risk they are for developing or exacerbating mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
Your kids might also struggle with impulse control and develop addictive behaviors, prioritizing gaming over responsibilities and other interests. If they like to play violent video games, not only can they become desensitized to violence, but their impulsive and addictive behaviors can also become increasingly aggressive.
Ultimately, excessive gaming can strain your family relationships, as conflicts may arise over time management and your children’s reluctance to participate in family activities. Addressing these concerns requires balanced gaming habits, promoting healthy lifestyle choices, and ensuring age-appropriate content.
Limiting your kids' video game time during the summer can encourage outdoor play, physical activity, and social interactions, promoting healthier lifestyles. It allows for more family bonding, creativity, and exploration of new hobbies. Limiting gaming time can also improve sleep patterns and prevent overexposure to potentially harmful game content, enhancing your kids’ overall well-being.
How to Limit Your Kids’ Video Gaming During the Summer
While there are definitely dangers associated with giving your kids too much access to video games, there are some positive aspects to allowing your kids to play.
Here are a few:

  • Video games are fun.


  • They can be educational (ABCya, duolingo, Epic!, Science360), promote creativity (Minecraft, Super Mario Maker 2, Cities: Skylines, Planet Coaster, The Sims, Terraria), and encourage problem solving (Toad Treasure Tracker, Tetris, Escape Academy, Baba Is You, Outer Wilds, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes).


  • They can help kids socialize and build a peer support network.


  • They can help regulate negative emotions.

Like with so many other potential vices, the key to allowing your kids to play video games is moderation. Your main concern shouldn’t be that your kids are playing games, per se, but that they might be playing them too often.
While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids be allowed to play video games for no more than 2 hours per day during the summer, every child is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
According to Alok Kanojia, MD, psychiatrist and president of Healthy Gamer, you should collaborate with your kids to find a healthy balance, rather than establishing yourself as the “limit-setting bad guy.” By understanding the risks and benefits associated with excessive video gaming – as well as having regular conversations with your kids about the benefits they’re getting from playing versus other things they might be missing out on – you can make the right decisions for your family.
Consider these tips for limiting your kids’ video gaming during the summer:

  • Create a list of daily activities and/or tasks your kids must complete before they can play any video games. This can include chores and/or spending a certain amount of time reading, working on a craft, and playing outside. Kids will often get immersed in one (or more) of these activities and spend more than the required time doing them, which means less time playing video games. They might even want to do them again later in the day.


  • Set alarms to create designated “video game hours” each day when kids can play. Be sure to also set alarms for when they need to stop playing. You can also explore the parental control features on your family’s game consoles, computers, and smartphones. Some allow you to restrict certain types of content by age and schedule time limits for play sessions.


  • Bedrooms are for recharging bodies, not screens. Keep devices, computers, and video game consoles out of their bedrooms so that gaming doesn't disrupt their sleep and so you can monitor their activity. Meal times – and especially the dinner table – should be free of video games, as well.


  • When your kids are older, have their friends drop their phones into a box when they visit your house. Your kids and their friends will then be focused on spending time together, even if some of that time is interacting while looking at a bigger screen. Be sure to let your kids’ friends’ parents know about this policy so they can contact you directly if they need to reach their child, and let your kids' friends know that their phones are still easily accessible if they need to reach their parents.


  • Talk to your kids about why they play video games. Ask them about how games make them feel and what benefits they get from them. Then, ask them what they like outside of video games. You might discover that your child is facing a challenge – like bullying in school or a conflict with a friend – and is using video games to cope. If you can help your child overcome that challenge, they’ll likely want to spend time playing those video games.


  • Have your child stand on a balance board or yoga ball when playing video games. Have them take a break and move around if you notice they’re becoming deregulated.


  • An hour after your child starts playing video games, ask how much fun he or she is having? Then, ask again after two hours. Chances are, the longer they play, the less fun they’ll have. They might get bored or even frustrated. Kids often don’t process the actual impact of their gaming unless it’s pointed out to them. Have a quick chat about how they are feeling, suggest taking a break to do something else like going to the playground or meeting up with friends, and tell them they can play video games again later if they really want to.


  • As your kids get older, have regular discussions with them to learn about what (academic, athletic, artistic, career, etc.) goals they might have, as well as to let them know about the time and effort involved in achieving those goals. Remind them that the summertime can provide a great opportunity to work toward those goals, and that the more time they spend playing video games, the longer it will take to achieve them.

It should be noted that managing the amount of time your kids play video games can be much easier if they’re busy with other activities where video games can’t be played.
These activities can include:

  • Attending sporting events or playing sports themselves


  • Attending camp


  • Volunteering


  • Taking music, dance, or art lessons


  • Hanging out with friends


  • Going to the beach or lake


  • Exploring your city as a family


  • Having family movie and game nights


  • Visiting relatives or family friends


  • Taking a family vacation


  • Babysitting, mowing lawns, doing chores, or working (if they’re old enough) to earn money

…and much more.
Keep up with the latest trends and risks related to your child's online activities by regularly checking updates from reputable sources such as: Common Sense Media (, National Online Safety (, and Childnet International ( You can also click here for our list of helpful resources for parents and kids related to digital safety.
Download our Quick Parent Guide on Kids & Video Games here.