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Computer games concerns

Does your child spend a lot of time playing computer games? If so, does it worry you?

The truth is that not all games are bad.There are many games which can help boost your child's literacy and help them improve their mathematics and problem solving skills. Plus with the introduction of the Wii, not all games are as sedentary as they once were.

Nonetheless I can't help but think that you can have too much of a good thing - even when it comes to the more educational games. If you're concerned about how much time your child spends playing computer games, or indeed have concerns over the types of games they are playing, then read my tips below.

How should you handle it?

Make sure you know which games your child is playing. Check the ratings of the games to make sure that they are age appropriate. I'd also suggest playing any new games yourself prior to letting your child play. This will enable you to assess the educational value of the game (if appropriate) and indeed enable you to ensure that the game is appropriate - regardless of the ratings.

Monitor your child's reactions and behaviour: do some games seems to make them more hyperactive or aggressive? If so, it's probably worth talking to your child about how those games seem to affect them and if necessary limit the time spent playing that particular game.

Keep the computer/console in a communal area: rather than having computers/consoles in your children's bedrooms, move them into a communal living area so you'll have a better idea of what they're playing. And indeed how long they are playing for.

Lead by example: bear in mind that your children will also watch you, so if you like playing computer games too make sure you're not setting a bad example by spending long periods of time playing games yourself!

Try to keep a healthy balance: ideally you'll want to make sure that your child doesn't spend all of their free time playing computer games. If you are concerned about the amount of time they're spending then set a daily limit and then stick to it. Be on hand to suggest other activities if they protest that they're bored eg sport, a bike ride, read a book, play a board game etc.

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