Newswise , If video games are at the top of your childâ€s wish list this season, it may be time to lay some healthy ground rules for their use, says Dr. William Zinser, associate professor of pediatric neurology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston Childrenâ€s Hospital.
Research has linked video game playing to behavior problems and even epileptic seizures in some children, Zinser
says.Beyond these dangers, the games may keep children from creative activities that are important to their developing minds.Zinser
gives the following tips for parents who want to ensure their children are safe during their next on-screen adventure:
â€¢ Not so close: Children should sit at least six feet away from a 19-inch or larger screen and at least two feet from a smaller screen, Zinser
says.The tiny, rapidly-flashing lights on the screen can cause seizures in susceptible children.While it is nearly impossible to know whether your child is susceptible, Zinser
recommends special caution for children who have ever had febrile seizuresâ€"convulsions brought on by fever in infants and small children.
â€¢ Leave a light on: The impact of the flashing lights is more pronounced in the dark, so parents should make sure the video game screen is not the only source of light in the room.
â€¢ Enforce a â€œcreativity breakâ€: Set a one-hour timer and have children â€œpauseâ€ their game and spend 15 minutes in another activity, such as drawing, coloring or reading a bookâ€"not watching television, Zinser
says: â€œWhatâ€s important is to get them away from the flashing lights of the screen and give them a chance to use their minds creatively.â€
â€¢ Understand the limits of video game ratings: Parents can assume that games rated â€œE for Everybodyâ€ are less violent than those rated â€œT for Teen.â€ But they should not assume that a teenager is somehow immune to violence, Zinser
says: â€œStudies show that children of any age tended to become 25-30 percent louder, more disruptive or more rebellious after playing violent video games.â€
â€¢ Know what your children are playing: Computer-savvy children can easily download Internet games portraying drug use and violence, Zinser