Does your child spend too much time in front of a screen?
Does your child spend too much time in front of a screen? Kerkez

What to do if your child's gaming obsession goes too far

COMPETITIVE video gaming is one of the fastest growing entertainment industry sectors, with about half a billion people expected to watch eSport broadcasts by 2021.

That popularity lead to big prizemoney offered when a 16-year-old American gamer won $3 million at the Fortnite World Cup last month, slightly more than Novak Djokovic's $2.9 million Wimbledon prize.

With numbers like this parents will be pressured by kids to allow unlimited screen time in the hope of cracking the big league.

However, University of Southern Queensland clinical psychologist James Brown cautioned parents to resist the pester power.

While video games are a path to wealth for some, Mr Brown said parents should treat gaming-adept kids as if they showed talent on the real-world sports field.

"My young fellow said he wanted to be the next Michael Clark and outwardly I responded positively, but internally, I was thinking, 'Make sure you have a Plan B," he said.

"There are only a few people who make it to that level and that same thinking applies to professional gaming.

"There is a professional market but are we are still talking about one 16-year-old kid from the millions of kids globally that play Fortnite."

University of Southern Queensland clinical psychologist James Brown.
University of Southern Queensland clinical psychologist James Brown. Grace Yu

Managing expectations can prevent harm to a child's health and wellbeing.

Mr Brown said the body of research linking childhood anxiety and depression to screen time saturation was too large to ignore.

Again, parents of talented gamers should take the cue from parents of talented cricket players.

"A child who shows a love and aptitude for bowling might want to spend hours practising in the nets but we know that can lead to problems with stress fractures," he said.

"If parents allow their kids too much time in front of a screen than the child can do themselves harm and become unwell."

So what can parents do?

Mr James suggested setting firm limitations on screen time, whether that is gaming, watching television or using a smart device.

It is important to enforce those limits.

"If there is a young person who is out of control than parents might consider an extended period of time away from screen so the child can detox," Mr Brown said.