Excessive use of video games among children and adolescents is a growing concern. The aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a brief parental guide with advices and strategies for regulating video gaming in children.
A random sample of guardians of children between the age of 8–12 years old ( N = 5,864) was drawn from the Norwegian Population Registry and equally randomized into an intervention and a control condition. A parental guide based on clinical and research literature was distributed by postal mail to those in the intervention condition. A 4-month follow-up survey comprising questions about problematic video gaming, gaming behavior, sleep activity, and parental video game regulation behavior was administered.
Independent t-tests revealed no significant differences between the two conditions ( N = 1,657, response rate 30.1%) on any outcome measure. An ANOVA with planned comparisons showed that respondents who reported that they had read and followed the parental guide reported more video game problems and used more parental mediation strategies than those who did not read and follow the guide.
We found no evidence for the effectiveness of the psychoeducational parental guide on preventing problematic video gaming in children. However, the guide was read and positively assessed by a significant proportion of guardians. Differences between those who studied the guide and those who did not may indicate that parental guides are better aimed at providing important information to those who already have problems rather than as a mean of primary prevention.