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Set up Parental Controls on Video Games -  Internet Addiction Tips

"You were playing for how long???"

If your child has difficulty keeping to the limits you set for computer game time, it may be necessary to set up parental controls on their games of choice.

A few years ago one of the most popular MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) was the Sony published game "Everquest". There were numerous stories of marriages crumbling as players increasingly immersed themselves in this virtual world at the expense of real world relationships. While Everquest remains fairly popular, the new king (if you can call it this) of online videogame addiction appears to be World of Warcraft - which is also a MMORPG.

I believe that most WoW players are able to play responsibly and recognize when it is time to call it quits - similar to how most people know when to walk away at a casino. However, the socially engaging and literally endless nature of WoW (there is no final goal to achieve)  does appear to lead to addiction for a surprisingly large number of gamers.

How do you know if you or someone you care for is addicted? Some signs of video game addiction:

- Spending increasingly long hours online

- Playing as soon as the opportunity presents itself (e.g., as soon as getting home from school)  

- Thinking about your next gaming session when you are not playing

- Posting about WoW in online forums

- Neglecting home, work, or school responsibilities

- Attempting to cut back but having little success

- Becoming irritable when others ask you to quit

- Staying up very late to continue playing

- Spending less time with friends or previously enjoyed activities

Note that the first point above refers to the amount of time spent online. Of course there is no exact daily cutoff which indicates addiction. In my own practice I have seen people who spend 10 or more hours a day playing WoW. More common are those in the 3-5 hour a day range. My own recommendation to parents of WoW players? No more than 1.5 hours per day after homework is complete.  

Parents, you may have to take more control of your child's gaming time. I have seen formerly high achieving students fail classes, lose scholarships, and drop out of university due to excessive WoW playing. One of the first steps (but certainly not the only one) is to become familiar with the parental controls available for many online games - which allow you limit the time your child is playing. Learn more about WoW parental controls and the step-by-step method to help kids who are addicted to computer games.

Good luck!

PS: There is much more to overcoming video game or internet addiction than just this one tip. Visit the Information Centre for dozens of articles on computer and video game addiction.

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