I notice a lot of 'money for good behaviour'-type development question for kids here, and the main argument is some permutation of 'giving money for good behaviour does not help develop intrinsic motivation'. I also noticed a lot of 'moderate( ie. limit duration ) video gaming'-type questions too. The two led me to creating this question.

I grew up on video games, RPG's mostly, and I can honestly say that my intrinsic motivations come largely from video games.

"I'll never give up!" - is a hallmark of any video game protagonist.

"I can do even better!" - is also characteristic of protagonist and comes naturally from levelling up and what not.

It all depends on the games they play; I learned a lot of math from my games and even managing funds and about saving money from RollerCoaster Tycoon.

There's value in video games, so should it be moderated( ie. limited in duration )? I'm leaning more towards "supervised".

  • 1
    Keep in mind that most games (one might argue all successful games) provide extrinsic motivation in abundance, even if it is just making it to the next level. Leveling up generally results in increased powers/abilities. Performing exceptionally well is rewarded by higher scores or achievements. These are all extrinsic motivators. That doesn't mean that the intrinsic factors you mentioned don't count; merely that they are reinforced by extrinsic rewards.
    – user420
    Apr 30, 2014 at 12:25
  • Can you clarify what you mean by 'moderated'? Do you mean 'limited in duration', or 'supervised' (which you later use separately)?
    – Joe
    Apr 30, 2014 at 16:38
  • @Beofett is pretty spot-on regarding the extrinsic motivation that was built into the games. (Good) Game designers are essentially exploiting a small handful of psychological factors in order to improve user engagement (revenue). Whether it's an RPG, a shooter, or Angry Birds, they're all fairly good at providing instant gratification (incremental improvements, like leveling up, or stars), in order to overcome obstacles (perceived difficulty). While there is a lot of research that links playing (certain times of) video games to developing strong life skills, it's a very thin line in the sand.
    – Noah
    May 3, 2014 at 4:44

2 Answers 2


I'm a fellow gamer, have been since I was 6 years old. I've played shooters when I was 8 (NES), violent bloody 3D shooters like Duke or Quake when I was 10, mature-language, violent and also bloody fallout when I was 12, and hundreds of various pegi-18 games after those. I'm not a murderer, I'm not particularily violent, I've never tortured an animal, etc etc. In general - I think I turned out fine.

In spite of all that, I'm going to pay attention to what my children play and how they do it. In case there's a hint of excess aggression or any other game-inspired negative behavior.

So definitely supervise. Try to play with your kid and try to "point" him in the right direction, which is working on improving your skill in a particular game and not reacting negatively.

Whenever you feel it is necessary, react. And moderate. It's your right to do so and it's better to be safe than sorry.

If by moderated you mean limited in duration, then I think that it should be done. Mainly because small children will spend all of their time playing, completely neglecting any chores, homework, playing outside with friends - virtually neglecting everything else. Some people let children play only on weekends.

personal thoughts, no real scientifical justification: I'm a strong supporter of a strong distinction between computer game world and a real world. Ten or twenty years back the distinction was pretty strong with "bad" graphics and all, but now the border between real and game world is getting blurrier and blurrier. Make sure your child plays games which are clearly "not true". The world has to be totally different, sci-fi, fantasy, cartoon-like - so that there's no confusion between reality and virtual reality. I will not permit my kids to play games like GTA, Call of Duty or Battlefield simply because they look much too realistic. Where there's a strong unrealistic setting (Quake, Skyrim, Jedi series) there's no confusion and I think these games are safer to play.

  • I think the OP means "limited in duration" by "moderated", given the distinction between "supervision" and "moderation".
    – Joe
    Apr 30, 2014 at 16:37
  • Considering what you are saying: Sometimes it is good to know what your kid is playing, but not necessarily play with them. As a child, it is important to feel that a certain experience is exclusively theirs. The art of discovery is an important part of this.
    – Weckar E.
    Mar 29, 2017 at 13:06

Yes, you should limit video game time.

I would assume your goal as a parent is to make your child self sufficient, and that you don't have plans to support your child forever. (Note: If you are independently wealthy and your children are going to inherit a substantial trust fund, this advice doesn't apply.) Video games as well as other forms of amusement would dominant the majority of most people's time if all of our needs were being provided for by somebody else, which is likely the case in a parent-child relationship.

If your child likes to play video games, you can encourage good behavior around the house by requiring all chores, homework, etc. are finished before they are allowed to play. Additionally, you might introduce them to Scratch, Basic or Excel programming, Raspberry Pi or other programming tools that can develop a child's love of games into a useful skill.

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