Establishing Boundaries for Video Game Use With Your International Student | Dear Angela

Dear Angela,

I am concerned about my international student’s time spent video gaming! I am also worried that her grades are suffering as a result of time playing video games rather than sleeping and studying.

I want to help the student that I host to keep a healthy balance. Any ideas?



Dear Bye-Zelda,

Thank you for reaching out!  As video game use has increased over recent years, this is not an uncommon concern in any teen home.  According to recent statistics, roughly 73% of teens play online video games. You are not alone in wanting to encourage a more healthy amount of gaming and screen time!

Please always feel free to reach out to your Student Development Manager (SDM) with any concerns. Your SDM will speak to the student about gaming time and work together with you to identify solutions.

In the meantime, here are some ideas for how you can support your international student:

  1. Plan alternative social activities. Try providing fun and engaging alternatives to gaming in which the whole family can participate like a board game night! Host a dinner and movie night for your student and their friends or plan a fun family activity of their choice!  Proactively offering free time alternatives can be a great way to get your host student interested in other things, naturally reducing gaming time. Many students need active host encouragement to get involved in clubs or activities or plan face-to-face time with friends.  This is an excellent way for a host to support a student’s balanced lifestyle.
  2. Clearly communicate your house exceptions. Speak to your host student about house expectations about gaming, study time, and interaction with the family. Collaborating with your student will result in less hostility and more joint solutions. Remember to approach this from a place of love and not frustration. During this conversation, you could discuss the benefits of turning off the internet at a specific time each night.
  3. Support a proper study and sleep routine. Talk with your student about keeping electronic devices outside of her bedroom during sleeping and homework hours to reduce potential distractions.  Highlight the benefits of healthy study and sleep routines, including improvement in academic performance.
  4. Limit availability of the consoles. With natural parent and SDM support, host parents could consider taking away consoles during school nights. This has worked in several host homes; however, it does require host parents to speak to their SDM and get natural parent approval.
  5. Talk with your SDM about discussion with the school. If you see a strong connection between time spent gaming and poor grades, consult with your SDM. The SDM can facilitate a conversation with the school contact, and together you can work on a plan of support.
  6. Consider a conversation with Natural Parents. If the gaming continues to be a disruption and your host daughter is not willing to adjust on her own, your SDM can work with colleagues to discuss the issue with the natural parents. Together the team can organize a plan for a healthy level of gaming.
  7. Remain patient with this interest and understand the potential benefits. Gaming can help teens connect with others through a common interest, helping to expand their social circle. More and more schools are offering e-sports as a sport or club where students can meet other students with interests in video games and make new friends. Some research has also shown the benefits of gaming on memory and decision making. Consider the positive aspects of your international student’s interest! (See “Cognitive Benefits of Playing Video Games,” Psychology Today.)

We appreciate the love and guidance you are offering your host student!

Keep it up!


Check out our homestay blog for more information on Cambridge Network as a residential provider and tips for hosting. If you’re interested in hosting an international student, please fill out an inquiry form!


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