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Recently, a report out of Columbus, Ohio made national headlines because a 15-year-old boy ended up in the hospital after engaging in a 4-day X-Box marathon. According to the Associated Press, the teen became severely dehydrated after only leaving his room during the 4-day stint to grab snacks or take a quick shower. He’s expected to be alright, but Modern Warfare (his game of choice) engrossed him so fully that he was unaware that he was making himself ill.

Obviously the game itself is not to blame – kids (and adults!) need to learn limits, and parents need to encourage good habits that let their kids enjoy gaming, but stay healthy.

According to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, video games have some positives, including increased manual dexterity and computer literacy. “Educational” games can help aid in learning and homework.

However, long stints of playing games that are more violent in nature can add to aggression and social retreat. In extreme situations, it can lead to health problems.

So what are some things to keep in mind when letting little ones and young adults engage in gaming activities? Here are some guidelines from childdevelopmentinfo.com:

Video games are fun for all ages.

•    Always check the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) labels on your games. Standard ratings are (EC) Early Childhood, (E10+) Everyone 10+, (E) for Everyone, (T) for Teens, (M) for Mature, (AO) for Adults Only, and (RP) Rating Pending. This can help you find age-appropriate games for you and your kids.

•    Schedule game time in advance, and pick out your gaming choice well before the activity. Think about making a weekly calendar together with what you’ll play and when!

•    Set time limits. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no more than 1-2 hours of TV / gaming time per day, with no exposure for children under 2 years old.

•    Make gaming time family time – play together and discuss! Time together is bonding time, which is appreciated by all involved.

•    Set family guidelines for your games, including content, ratings, etc.

Do you have tips on gaming for your own family? Tell us in the Comments section below, or post on our Facebook Fan Page by clicking HERE.

– www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.jsp
– www.pamf.org/preteen/parents/videogames.html
– www.childdevelopmentinfo.com/kids-media/video-games-safety.shtml
– www.nbc4i.com
–  https://enoughisenoughau.blogspot.com/2011/05/cry-from-heart-violent-video-games-for.html (photo)