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Is this a game or drug?

Warning the games your child is playing may not be a game but a drug. Although seeming benign when we use the word game, these gadgets affect our children's minds. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests limiting video gameplay time to two hours per day for older children. Screen time should be avoided for children under age 2. Parents also should learn about the games their child is playing and the ESRB rating system at

The Academy has some valid concerns, such as children need to have time to sleep, exercise, and learn. As well, these games can be addictive, overly sexualized, and violent. So the AAP advocate for parents to be there with their children. While that sounds nice, in many communities, only the video game is there with their child.

Unfortunately, the Academy makes a fallacious assumption about the family structure. Some children play these games because it's something to do because of the lack of parental oversight. In some communities children are given video games as a pacifier, something to keep their children quiet. Because of economics and crimes, children are held up in their rooms playing with these devices for hours. It's become a rite of passage into independence. All the while, we know it's dangerous. "Although there is broad scientific consensus that virtual violence increases aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, there has been little public action to help mitigate children's exposure to it," according to an AAP report. What games do your children play, and what are their ratings? How long are your children on these games?

Fortnite remains one of the most popular video games of 2020. Here are the Top 5 Popular Video Games in 2021 include 1)Call Of Duty Warzone, 2)Minecraft Mobile, 3)Animal Crossing, 4) Grand Theft Auto, and 5) League Of Legends. Any of these games upstairs in your child's room?

Call of Duty is rated PEGI 18 due to depictions of graphic violence towards human-like characters. Violence involves using a wide array of weapons, from guns to rocket launchers and explosives. When characters are shot, they react realistically with some blood splatter.

Minecraft is rated 7+, meaning that the game is recommended for children aged seven upwards. The PEGI system classifies a 7+ rating as a game that "contains non-realistic looking violence towards fantasy characters (…) that could be upsetting to very young children."

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been rated PEGI 3. So, the game is appropriate for three years and above players, which is almost everyone who can hold a controller.

Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V), the American Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), has rated as Mature 17+ (M); this is equivalent to an R-rated movie. Will it click off if your child is 12, 14, or 16?

League of Legends holds a PEGI 12 rating. However, to play the game, the user has to accept the Terms of Use, which state that the proper age to play League is 13+, so players have to be 13 or over to play League of Legends. Who monitors where you're 13 or not?

Fortnite, a popular game, is routinely played by six- and seven-year-olds routinely play, a game where the goal is to kill every other person in the game. Fortnite is rated T (for Teen) by the ESRB and recommended for children 13 years or older.

Whether it's a tablet, apps, playstation, macOS, Linux, New Horizon, or Nintendo Switch , nowadays, our children's drug of choice are video games. Parents do it for many reasons, one being that child is distracted or entertained by the devices. While ratings on these gadgets sound nice, no one is paying attention to them. Are these games or gateway drugs? One thing is for sure they are affecting our children's minds. Let's go further than limiting but re-engaging our children by protecting their developing minds. Give your child a video break, take them to the park.

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Behavioral Educational Training Associates
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