Expert advice on gaming: How long should a 16 year old play video games?

As technology continues to advance, the video gaming industry is thriving more than ever before. With a wide variety of video games available for most platforms, allowing gamers to explore and engage in different worlds, it’s no surprise that teenagers are spending increasing amounts of time playing video games. However, as a parent, you may wonder, how long should a 16 year old play video games? In this article, we will explore expert advice on gaming and what factors to consider when setting time limits.

Factors to Consider

Before answering the question of how long a 16 year old should play video games, it’s essential to consider various factors which influence their gaming habits. Here are some important factors:

Age of the Child

The age of your child can play a significant role in setting gaming time limits. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children between two and five years old should have no more than one hour of screen time per day. At the same time, ages six and up should have consistent limits on screen time, including video games.

Child’s Interests

The type of video games your child enjoys can also affect how much time they spend gaming. For instance, a child who loves puzzle games may not want to stop playing, while another who enjoys action games may have more trouble putting their controller down. Understanding your child’s interests and gaming preferences can help set realistic time limits.

Responsibilities and Activities

As a parent, you should always consider your child’s responsibilities and activities when determining how long they should play video games. If your child is attending school, doing homework, and has extra-curricular activities, they may have less time for video games. On the other hand, if your child has completed all their responsibilities, they may have more time for gaming.

Sleep Quality

According to the University of Pennsylvania, children who spend many hours gaming tend to sleep less, affecting their overall health and wellbeing. Parents should monitor their child’s sleep quality and quantity and adjust the gaming time accordingly.

Gaming Time Recommendations and Tips

While it’s essential to consider the factors above, here are some gaming time recommendations and tips:

The One-Size-Fits-All Approach Might Not Work

Various gaming experts suggest different time limits. However, it’s essential to pay attention to your child’s behaviour and adjust their gaming time accordingly.

Set Realistic Limits

Consider setting realistic limits, such as limiting gaming time to an hour a day on weekdays and up to two hours on weekends, especially for teenagers who have responsibilities and activities. Discuss and agree on reasonable limits with your child, and ensure they understand the rationale behind it.

Encourage Alternative Activities

Encourage your child to participate in alternative activities, such as reading, exercise, or enjoying outdoor activities, in addition to gaming. It’s essential to encourage a balance between different activities for a young person’s healthy development.

Monitor Your Child’s Gaming Habits

As a parent, monitor your child’s gaming habits, including the types of games they play, duration, and frequency. This approach will help identify the impact of gaming on your child’s behaviour, sleep, and academic performance, allowing you to curate a healthy gaming environment for them.


Gaming can be an enjoyable and educational activity for teenagers, but it’s crucial to balance it with other activities for healthy development. As a parent, it’s essential to understand your child’s gaming habits and consider various factors when setting realistic gaming time limits.


What are the health risks associated with excessive gaming for teenagers?

Excessive gaming has been linked to obesity, poor sleep quality, behaviour-related problems such as aggression and addiction, poor academic performance, and social isolation.

Can video games be beneficial for teenagers?

Video games can be beneficial for teenagers as long as they are balanced with other activities. They can improve cognitive functions such as decision-making, problem-solving, and creativity. Some games can also enhance academic performance by incorporating educational aspects.

How can I monitor my child’s video gaming activity?

Parents can monitor their child’s video gaming activity by checking the playing time and types of games they are playing, setting time limits, and discussing reasonable gaming expectations with their children.

Should I ban video games for my teenager?

Banning video games may not be the best approach as it may lead to a sense of deprivation, and your child may feel like they are missing out on something. A better approach is to set reasonable gaming limits and discuss their impact on other responsibilities and activities.

How many hours of sleep should a teenager get?

Teenagers should have between 8-10 hours of sleep per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Regular monitoring of sleeping habits is essential to maintain your teen’s health and wellbeing.


  • Sharma, R., Shastri, P., & Sharma, A. (2018). Effects of Video Games on Children and Adolescents. Cureus, 10(12).
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016). Children and Media Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved from
  • University of Pennsylvania. (2015). Too much video gaming can steal time from other meaningful activities. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from

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