By Jacob Aldrich

As children are becoming more and more involved in screens and technology, there has also been another situation which has been seeing more and more increasingly: loud, often angry outbursts from otherwise calm and happy children. With the recent popularization of games such as Fortnite, Roblox, Minecraft, and many other staples of video game culture rising in popularity amongst a younger demographic, more kids than ever before are becoming exposed to video games, which can be a good thing, but also have it fair share of problems.

According to a study that followed 20 children who play video games, there are a multitude of factors that can contribute to these feelings and the outburst that can follow. Actions taken by other players in the game can contribute (cheating, “griefing”, losing because of teammates), as well as contribution from the child’s daily life, such as a bad day, bad grades, chores, or having to do homework. These can all boil over until the child unleashes their anger and frustration, usually in the form of loud angry, sometimes explicit, outbursts and even physical ones, such as kicking, punching or throwing nearby objects.

While these sights can be upsetting, and it may seem that the child can’t be talked to without upsetting them, it is important for educators, parents, or even peers, to try to help soothe and empathize with them.  Some things a parent can do is try to suggest a snack, break, or some other distraction to try to get time away from the game. There are also signs known as HALTS, that are used to see if the child may be Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, or Stressed and if their levels of any of these are significantly met, it might be an indicator of their susceptibility to get angry or loud. Parents can try to make an effort to play games with their child to get an idea of what their child goes through in this game, to have a better understanding and discussion when the child gets frustrated, of what they are going through. Peers can also suggest playing a different game, meeting in real life to do other activities, or just taking a quick break in between games to collect their thoughts. Overall, video games on their own are a way for children to take out stress and feelings from their day in a usually unassuming way. But sometimes the feelings and emotions spill out from the game, and support from their family and peers can make all the difference in helping them to calm down and stay in control of their emotions.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you have children that get angry easily, or get very frustrated when playing video games, or after something disappointing happens? If yes, how do you try to manage these outbursts?
  2. What steps would you take if a child damages something during one of these outbursts?
  3. What activities would you suggest if a child needs a break from video games or similar activities?
  4. How often, or not, do you let your child play video games for, and if so for how long at a time?

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