Gamers are passionate about gaming. They usually do not see any­thing wrong with the amount of time they spend gaming and are quick to challenge anyone who questions it. All of this might leave you, the reader, conflicted. Perhaps you appreciate the intellectual challenges of many games, and appreciate the phenomenal artistry that goes into creating the fantasy worlds of these games. Perhaps you have sympathy for the private, social, on-line world your child inhabits. There are indeed many things to be admired about video games.

But video games also have the potential to harm your child’s devel­opment. In this chapter we will share some of the information we have gathered over the years. We want you to understand what addiction is, how to recognize it, how to prevent it, and what to do if it is already a problem for your child. We will ask you to think about how you inadvertently may be allowing video games to become a problem for your family. If so, how can you change this?

In the following chapters, we will give you information about how excessive video game play can influence your child’s development in damaging ways. We will also examine harmful health effects that can be caused by gaming. We will then explain the developmental stages that children go through, what they need at each stage, how video games fit into that picture, how you can set appropriate limits with your child, and how to create and maintain close bonds with your child in this age of video games. 

Hilarie Cash has been a psychotherapist since 1981. When she moved toSeattlewith her family in 1993, she developed an interest in the emerging problem of internet addiction, co-founding Internet/Computer Addiction Services in 1998. Her son’s love of video games, and the clients she saw, convinced her of the profoundly addictive nature of this form of entertainment. She provides individual, family, and group therapy to game addicts, as well as writing and lecturing on the subject. 

Kim McDaniel is a devoted parent and wife, and has been a professional counselor for the past nineteen years. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with a BA degree in psychology fromCaliforniaStateUniversity, Northridge and an MA degree fromPepperdineUniversity. She has provided clinical services to children and adolescents at several residential and hospital facilities. Presently, Mrs. McDaniel’s practice is focused on providing psychological services to families, adolescents, and children.

[1] The group formed by multiple players, like a clan or team, to achieve a shared gaming goal.

[2] A powerful enemy in a game that must be fought and overcome for players to advance or earn points in a game.

[3] Increase skill and power by getting a character to a higher level. Characters start at level one and increase their level as they kill enemies, learn new skills, etc.

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