How to Avoid Spending Too Much Time on Video Games

Here are some ways you can practice better time management while still enjoying your hobby.

Child spending too much time playing video games with red controller.

Video game addiction became classified as a mental illness by the World Health Organization in 2019. However, that doesn’t stop the average American from playing about 7 hours of video games a week—and some people play much more than that.

Of course, not all video gaming is detrimental to mental health. In fact, some studies show that it may have benefits. But even good hobbies can become harmful if they’re not practiced in moderation. If you’re worried that you or your child are spending too much time playing video games, here are some ways you can limit your time on this hobby.

Consider your other priorities

Unfortunately, video game habits and addictions are real, and often come at high costs to all other life priorities. For some, it may mean neglected relationships with family members or friends. Personal hygiene may go out the window, or sometimes, in-game purchases start eating too much of your budget.

These very real consequences are some of the first signs that you’re spending too much time playing video games. Take a few hours completely uninterrupted by electronics to consider what your life priorities are.

Consider these questions:

  • What skills do you want to improve?
  • Where do you want to be in your career in five years?
  • How can you work on your physical health?

Related: 7 Time Management Tips to Transform Your Day

Set concrete limits

Have you ever heard of SMART goals? It’s an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

If you’re committed to spending less time on video games, you may benefit from setting a SMART goal. Set concrete limits of what you will and won’t do in regard to video games.

You can create a schedule and only play for a certain amount of time per day, or you can give yourself video game time as a reward for completing other tasks. Sometimes a simple timer will do the trick. However, timers may not be enough for some people. Some software, such as FocusMe, can ration the amount of time you spend on certain apps or websites.

Related: Screen Time for Children: How Much Is Okay?

Think about your motives

When it comes to media consumption, the Theory of Uses and Gratifications is a popular psychological model used to help determine why a person is spending time on a certain type of media. The basis of the theory is that people seek out media entertainment to fulfill wants and needs. If you can identify your wants and needs, you can better understand why you use media, including video games.

Do you play because you sincerely enjoy playing, or are you trying to escape from the pressures of life? Are you seeking out online interaction because you’re lonely, or do you find RPGs a genuine source of fun social interaction?

Understanding your underlying motivation will help you identify whether or not your video gaming habit is unhealthy and how much time you really want to be spending on it.

Play with other people physically present

Too much time on video games can be damaging, especially for children and teens. One way to mitigate excessive gaming is to play with other people physically present.

Physically interacting with others is different than interacting with them online. Being around people can help fill voids of loneliness that may underlie video gaming habits and can stop gamers from behaving poorly, as people tend to be bolder online and say things that they wouldn’t say in person.

Remember to be mindful of moderation. Even a positive and uplifting video game can be harmful if played in excessive quantities. These suggestions can help you refocus if you’re spending too much time on video games.

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