How To Get Your Head Around Your Kids’ Online Gaming Life

Let’s be honest – many of us parents aren’t big fans of gaming. In fact, some of us have probably even been known to roll our eyes or groan when we think about just how long our kids spend playing online games. But if there is one thing I’ve learned after 25 years of parenting, it’s that taking the time to look at a stressful family situation from the perspective of my children, can be very powerful. In fact, it can almost always fast track finding a mutually agreeable work-around for everyone – and gaming is the perfect example.  

Why Do Our Kids Love Gaming? 

We have all read about how online gaming can provide players with regular hits of dopamine  –  a neurotransmitter in the brain that becomes active when you participate in fun and pleasurable activities. Now I am not disputing this for a moment – I’ve witnessed it firsthand! However, it is important to remember that dopamine increases whenever we do anything enjoyable – pop a square of chocolate in our mouth or watch our favorite sporting team win – not just when we play online games. 

Many online games have cleverly designed built-in reward systems, and many experts believe that it is the combination of dopamine and reward that probably best explains why our kids are such gaming fans. Now, these reward systems are intentionally unpredictable so players are aware they will eventually get a reward, but they have no idea as to when or how often it is coming – so they are compelled to keep playing! Very clever! 

In my opinion, gaming also fills several other needs in our children – the need to belong, to feel competent and be independen ..

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