What precautions should I take to make it so my son does not become a games addict as he grows. I know what I have lost playing games for so many years when I was young.

My 4+ year old son (will be 5 in two months) loves to play video games. I am a games addict myself - though casually. I have continued to play games on my mobile, PC and Xbox (mostly on PC). My son inherited this from me and seems like he is little addicted to it because he wants to play games almost all time.

Mostly he plays car games both in my mobile and pc (he loves cars, we buy a new car/toy almost every month) and he asks me to play other games like angry birds, batman, plants vs zombies etc.

I consider it a good thing it is all under control so far. Most of the time when we say "no, this is not the time to play" he listens to us and says "we will play again in the evening or next day morning". He gets mad if we won't allow him to play a few requests in a row. This happens when I am busy with work, my computer or my mobile. I am concerned things will worsen.


When he plays on the PC, I restrict him to play around 20 minutes but he asks me to play other games which can't play. It is the mobile on which he wants to play the whole day. It is not just my phone but he cries to play on my wife's, nephew's and my sister's phones as well. According to my wife and sister he plays more than an hour every day on someone's mobile.

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    You did not mention how much time per day does your son spent playing games. Do you have some limit? Are you actually measuring it? Or does it all depend only on whether the computer or mobile is available at the given moment. Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 11:50
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    It will only get worse. One day he will be 30 and you'll wonder why he still spends all of his time playing video games instead of going outside to play cricket. Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 12:13
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    "instead of going outside to play cricket" but then what? He'd have a debilitating cricket addiction!
    – DA01
    Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 16:06
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    Have you considered to make your own games? Nothing fancy, just something basic using Scratch Jr or something like that. Nowadays the stigma playing video games had seems to be removed thanks to things like Gamification of learning (disclaimer: I'm a game developer myself), also you might want to take a look at the series of videos Because Games Matter by the guys at extra-credits.net
    – rraallvv
    Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 18:44

5 Answers 5


Though I can no longer provide the citation it has been established that rapid changing video is extraordinarily harmful for children and has been documented to cause and/or aggravate ADD and ADHD. Programs like Yo Gabba Gabba (I hate that show) with it's slow consistent movement is preferable to shows like Baby Einstein with it's rapid changing scenery and topics.

"There's a party in my tummy! So yummy, so yummy!"

Somebody shoot me now.

Bottom line I'd discourage it with extreme prejudice though you'll be in for a s***-storm of emotional blowback. I'm a father of eight, grandfather of three (so far) and I don't envy you the task.

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    "Extraordinarily harmful"? Let's see a cite for that. Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 5:10
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    -1: Looking around, I see an awful lot of successful game players over the years, and a lot of conflicting studies that mirror the same ones they applied to books, radio, TV and the automobile, generally blown out of proportion by the papers.
    – deworde
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 19:10
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    @deworde And having done studies on those TV studies, many were extremely procedurally flawed. The most egregious one didn't control for the laboratory viewing environment (the enforced watching period, the inability to choose the program, the sudden begin and end of watching), yet naively concluded that it was the content of the viewing that caused the increase in child frustration observed after.
    – Septagon
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 21:57
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    @SevenSidedDie My favourite was the one that gave a child some toys to play with, then put the TV on, and watched their behaviour. The control was not "some other distraction", but just not putting the TV on. Study's Conclusion: TV causes inattentiveness. Other potential conclusion: Kids can be distracted.
    – deworde
    Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 7:58

I have teenagers. If you want to de-emphasize gaming, you have to provide a compelling alternative that your child will be satisfied participating in. The bad news is, you are going to have to participate actively as well, which means you have to make time away from work or other commitments to devote to your child. At least until your child is old enough to replace you with his own friends. If cricket is the alternative, you'll have to say, "Hey, let's get some friends and go play cricket, instead."

Another tip on the tantrums. Kids go with what works for them. If tantrums get results, they use them. If discussion works, they'll talk. Your best response there might be, "I can see that you're upset about this. We'll discuss it when you have calmed down." And then, ignore him until he calms down.


When it comes to video games, the main point to keep in mind is that they are not a baby sitter. Just like with artistic expression or physical sports, the important thing is keep engaged with them. If you don't enjoy the games themselves, just listen to the child. If they are having a hard time with a particular spot, just be there for moral support. All a video game is at that age is a toy as any other. It wont cause any more harm or help any more than watching TV or a movie.

  • +1: This is really important. If you want your child to respect your opinion about games, they have to believe you know what you're talking about.
    – deworde
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 19:13
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    At the same time, for children who need alone time; games can provide that without depriving them of activity entirely.
    – Weckar E.
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 12:59

The direct answer to your question Enocurage or discourage playing video games to 4+ year old son is discourage and not encourage. The answer to the sub-question What precautions should I take to make it so my son does not become a games addict as he grows would be is no different from beer or coffe - just disallow at young age. Later, matter of opinion, some avoid, others do not see a problem. Not at the age of four, however.

Later buy one really top range, expensive game per year - with good complex plot and perfect graphics, suitable for age, and allow to play only this game. The game will be much less addictive after once played till the end, making the situation possible to control. But not at the age of four, this should be much later.

Real world activities should always be preferred against the virtual reality. Also good Disney movies may tell more about the world than games and may be preferred if there is really a need to keep the child busy in front of the screen.

To get out of your current situation, offer some good Disney movie or really great toy and use the opportunity to take the game console away. If the toy is appropriate for the age, the child must be able to be busy with it also without you.

In the past games were more related to electronics and programming. If you build a home computer with own hands and then program a game on it, probably can play that game till getting green - will not make any harm. However recent hardcore players do not progress into programmers - games they are used to require large team of professionals to be built.

Educational programs, or games with very strong education background, are not considered "video games" as understood in this question. Also using or learning computer in general should be encouraged beyond doubt, as long as this is not about games.


My son just turned 4 and videogames are a constant source of conflict in our house. I can't get him to go outside or play with his toys. All he does is obsess over when he can play next. It kills me and I wish we'd never started; it was part of his potty training but just escalated way beyond that. I've resorted to hiding the system and telling him it needs a break, but it keeps getting dragged back out when my husband wants to play it. My advice; never start, or if you already have and it's too late, just get rid of it. I've spend all morning looking up how to deal with this; anticipating the storm when my son wakes up and finds "the beep" gone.

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