"In this study, it looks like kids with less than 19 hours a week didn't get involved in pathological gaming, so no more than two hours a day," he suggested.
But Gallagher also emphasized that time spent playing is less important than the effect that gaming is having on your child. "If they're attracted to games so much so that they don't get involved in other things, or they talk about gaming and don't talk about anything else, there may be a problem," he said.
Both Gallagher and Gentile said the finding that video games can lead to poorer school performance is likely due to the time spent gaming. "Gaming is taking away time that could be spent on activities that have educational benefit," Gentile said.
Gentile also recommends no more than two hours a day of "screen time," in line with the American Academy of Pediatrics' guidelines. And, screen time includes TV, computer, video games and even the newest music players and smart phones that have computer-like capabilities.
For more advice on children and healthy TV, Internet and video game time, visit the Nemours Foundation.
SOURCES: Douglas A. Gentile, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology, Iowa State University, Ames; Richard Gallagher, Ph.D., director, Parenting Institute, New York University Child Study Center, and associate professor, child and adolescent psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine, New York City; February 2011, Pediatrics
All rights reserved