Asking for a friend: Help! My parents blame video games for my problems – how do I explain that it actually helps me relax?

  • Each week, we respond to a question from our readers, and our team of clinical psychologists give advice and resources you can turn to
  • Phones and computers can be a great way to wind down, so it’s tough when your mum or dad doesn’t allow you to use them – here are some tips on how to change their minds
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Knowing some of the benefits and consequences of playing video games might help you convince your parents to let you use your phone more often

Need an answer to a personal question that you’ve never mustered the courage to ask? We’ve been there. Whether it is about school, family issues or social life, share your thoughts with us.

If you have a question you’d like answered (about anything at all), please fill out this Google form. Don’t worry, you will remain anonymous!

Dear Friend
My parents blame all my problems on the games I play. So they don’t ever let me use my phone for fun because they believe it is a waste of time. What can I do to show them that it is okay for me to relax by using my phone?
Time Well-Wasted On My Phone

How do I convince my parents I can balance my studies with my screen time?

Hi Time Well-Wasted
It’s completely understandable to want to spend your leisure time playing video games or using your phone. Nowadays, the internet is where we find a lot of great entertainment, from checking in with friends on social media to watching videos or playing games.

But with the rise of technology, some parents are concerned about the health risks and harmful effects of long-term screen time. So while you may not need restrictions on your phone use, it may be helpful to understand why your parents feel you do.

Many parents worry about how addicting phones can be. App developers often create features designed to keep users scrolling or playing. Some games have even got into trouble for being too similar to gambling.

Studies show that children who spend excessive time playing video games have difficulty controlling their time on their devices and don’t get enough sleep. They might also have mood swings, neglect their work and have difficulties keeping up their relationships.

Should there be a limit on the time teens spend playing video games?

Many parents also think that if children spend too much time with technology, they won’t get enough exercise, or will have eye strain, headaches or back pain.

Knowing why your parents might be concerned can help you figure out how to convince them. After all, it is important for you to be able to unwind after a long and perhaps stressful day.

In fact, a study by the University of Oxford published in 2020 showed that playing video games could actually be good for well-being. The study’s lead author told BBC news that this positive effect could be because the two games in the study, Plants vs. Zombies and Animal Crossing, had social features that required players to interact with other people in the game.

Playing video games is good for your well-being, University of Oxford study says

Like most things in life, technology will always have its pros and cons. It is up to you to decide how you use it. Your parents won’t always be there to monitor your screen time, so it is good to talk to them about responsible phone use.

Here are some of our tips for what you can say:

  1. Share with your parents about the games you like to play. If they have objections, listen and see if their points are valid. If you do not agree with them, tell them why, and explain your point of view.

  2. Decide with your parents a set time to play on your computer or phone. Once you have decided on that time slot, stick to it.

  3. Prove to your parents that you will still handle your school work, chores and other responsibilities, even with the time reserved for your devices.

  4. Make time for other hobbies away from a screen such as reading, going outdoors and socialising with family and friends.

  5. This last tip is more for you. After staring at the screen for a while, take time to relax your eyes and stretch. Remember, you also need to keep yourself healthy.

Through having an open discussion with your parents, you might be able to play video games without having to hide in your room, and you’ll also develop a more transparent relationship with your parents.
Best of luck, Friend of a Friend

The question was answered by clinical psychologists from the Department of Health under Shall We Talk, a mental health initiative launched with the Advisory Committee on Mental Health.

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