Computer gaming and Internet obsession of children and teens is a rising problem of our time.For parents it can be very frustrating to see children spending long hours behind the monitor, online or playing games,chatting with strangers or watching videos, instead of doing homework, and reading.
Children like spending time at the computer and other electronic devices created for entertainment and communication. No doubt, there are harmful consequences to overdosing computer time, like sedentary lifestyle, lack of social skills and education, and emotional swings. There are known technological and non-technological paths to deal with child computer overdosing, but there is no uniformly accepted single best method to address this issue.
Prohibiting or negotiating? Many parents have already learned that prohibiting is not always best way of solving dilemmas with children, and often it does not work as good as coming to an agreement with a child about the rules of computing. Rather than prohibiting computer entertainment, should the parents negotiate the rules about computer time?
Are there creative ways to convert computer devices from evil to good, from enemy to a friend? More advanced parental negotiation strategies might include granting the computer time earned by educational activities, by good grades, achievements in sport, and doing chores.
Comprehensive approach to the problem should not be based on merely restricting the access, like many existing parental control tools do. Computer activities are part of modern life style for many children and young adults, therefore to solve the problem of computer addiction, we have to build our computing environment with children safety in mind. Computer addiction prevention should be thought of as safety feature of computing products, and it should be governed by regulations guaranteeing that the danger of computer addiction for young audience is in check.
Probably, more advanced approach to this problem is offered by relatively new computer utilization managment software tools, like EmuQuest, allowing parents to enforce learning as a means for a child to earn more gaming time.
Currently, a lot of control over computing activities of children and teenagers is in the hands of game manufacturers, and other entities with commercial interest to attract “the eyes” and keep them on their content as long as possible. By nature, these activities are typically shallow, designed only to entertain, and not geared to provide educational or developmental benefits to their young audience.
A more responsible approach would allow parents a higher degree of control on children computing via “managed” computer systems of new generation combining balanced contents with entertaining, educational and controlling dimensions. Such new generation computer products (software, hardware, miniature devices, game stations) should be no less entertaining than current children favorites so successfully attracting youth audience, but they also should feature built-in protection against overdosing, and other “deep” content capable of developing skills, increasing knowledge levels and creativity.