IA Blog

More than just a game

🕐 6 minute read 

Your children are exhausted. It isn’t because they are having trouble sleeping, or because they overexerted themselves the day before by so much running around. It is because they were up until 3 am playing video games, and they aren’t able to bounce back.

This carries over into their interactions with you, their success in the classroom, and potentially even their mental/physical health. But how do you end this vicious cycle?

Before we share the opinions of youth sports experts, allow us to admit our biases in advance. We will always recommend using sports and fitness, specifically basketball and strength training, as a means to help your kids overcome their problems whenever applicable. We just want to earn your trust by supplying factual and impartial information on the topic to help you make a more educated decision on what you want to do. These enlightening details may help us all get a better understanding of why children love gaming so much, as well as provide some options toward making your children healthier AND happier.

Here are the facts
Studies show that moderate to vigorous exercise multiple days a week can help prevent childhood obesity and obesity related issues. Hopefully we can all agree there. But did you know that “exergaming” (active video games that are also a form of exercise) has shown a positive effect in promoting preschool children’s moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at school? It has also been shown to improve their self-perceived competence and motor skill competence. This means movement obviously brings them a greater sense of self worth. So why are they so content with sitting behind a screen for hours at a time?

There are a few reasons why they find it so rewarding, and fortunately these reasons are also found in other environments. Environments that are far away from couches and don’t include VR headgear!

A sense of purpose
This is a hard one to ignore. It simply feels good to put your mind toward something and seek success. Whether it be winning a battle against animated villains, or a championship versus your peers in an athletic competition. The goal of a victory is incredibly motivating.

Games spark the inner workings of a child’s brain to complete complex tasks. Consequently in sports, coaches implement various strategies for players to “out-think” their opponents. We want youth athletes to use their minds as well as their physical attributes to improve on the court. There is a reason behind our clipboards on the sidelines after all!

Belonging to a team 
The encouragement of youngsters to feel they are a part of something larger than themselves has shown to improve self esteem, lower depression symptoms and decrease stress. If a sense of TEAM does not prove that SPORTS are a good correlation here then we are at a loss for words!

“why are they so content with sitting behind a screen for hours at a time?”

We are sure there are a myriad of scientific reasons as to why these video games have your little ones hooked, but does that even matter to you? What you want to know is how to make it stop if it is negatively affecting their mental and/or physical health. Here is our advice based on the facts.
As always, the answer is simple but never easy. Like many instances, moderation is key and as much as we love coaching and training our athletes, we would advise against them playing basketball for 8 hours straight. We would rather they find a healthy balance between their hoops, health, education, family time and Fortnite friends. There is a balance for each and although “healthy” is subjective, everything is made possible with STRUCTURE in place.
“You’re allowed 2 hours per day”, “once your homework is done”, or “after you finish your vegetables” should all sound familiar. Unfortunately goals without structure are just dreams. And if you expect your child to put down the controllers just because you don’t find it useful…keep dreaming!
As coaches we don’t expect our players to win games by drawing up the plays themselves. We understand that some things need to be taught and repeated multiple times before the end goal can be achieved. Providing children with structured lessons will point them in the right direction and hopefully that direction will be away from the TV screen!
The beauty of being an adult is having once been a kid. Many of us remember how “annoying” our parents were when we were growing up, but we also remember the impact they had on our lives when they spoke to us like adults for the first time.
We mandate proper communication amongst our athletes as often as they can handle. Although we originally believed it was a naturally acquired trait gained through years of life experience, we were wrong. It must be taught and taught correctly. When we speak to our 15 year olds like they are infants, all they hear are new rules coming from another parent. But when we speak to them like adults, we have adult conversations with adult results.
Helping your child learn how to balance what is important to them is paramount to their success in adulthood. Tell them how you feel their gaming is affecting their lives and suggest better uses of their time. Teach them that self-discipline is choosing between what they want NOW and what they want MOST.
There is certainly a time and place to “baby” your little ones, and we can appreciate that. But when it comes to something as serious as their mental and physical health, maybe it’s time we all act like grownups.

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