If you as a parent are tense about the amount of time your child spends playing video games, you are not alone. The kids’ obsession with their video games is the most commonly discussed topic amongst parents these days.
According to a 2010 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, amongst the 2,000 children of age 8 to 18, the average time spent on screen is 7 hours and 38 minutes per day. If we assess the figure, it becomes 53 hours per week of screen time which is more than a full-time job.
Even if you resist buying video games for your children for some time, this cannot be the ultimate solution. You need to limit the time your kids play to live a healthy balanced life.
Video games have made the once-active kids addicted to screens. Screen time has left all the normal and healthy childhood activities behind and changed relationships with friends and family. These days, kids rarely socialize in person with relatives and friends and try to spend all their spare time on screen by themselves.
The majority of kids and adolescents play video games these days. While most play in moderation, some may become obsessed with gaming. Your concern about online games is right if your kid is neglecting homework just to play video games or is staying up all night gaming and is too tired to wake up for school the next day.
For this purpose, parents need to effectively limit their gaming addiction by saying “no” to their kids. This is much needed for a healthy childhood. We have listed some practical, parent-tested strategies to get a hold of video games in your kid’s life.
1. Gaming as a Reward After the Completion of Responsibilities
As a parent of children or younger adolescents, you should set and enforce some limits to video gaming. Try to have clear and consistent guidelines as it will reduce the excessive time spent playing. Make a rule that “gaming is a dessert.” This approach will help them think that video games should be a privilege that has to be earned. It is not an inherent right.
Once the kid finishes his responsibilities for the day, like homework and other assigned household chores, only then will he be allowed to begin playing. For instance, talk to your kid that once they water all the garden plants, they will earn a half-hour on the iPad (Negotiate as per the size of the lawn).
Note: Make sure to check the quality and proficiency of the homework and household chores before letting them start their games.
2. Show interest in Playing a Video Game with Your Child
One of the friendliest ways to set and enforce limits is to be open-minded and show your willingness to try their games. This way, your kid will teach you one of their favorite online video games. After giving it a try, you can better judge the game, whether it’s instructive, challenging, or deplorable.
After all this effort, ask your child to reduce the time spent on video games. Most likely, your kid will listen to your advice just because you have shown interest in playing his favorite games.
3. Start Slowly, and Put Limitations on Your Child’s Gaming
It’s always better to start slowly rather than instantly cutting back your child’s access to games. This way, your child will understand that their obsession with games seems to cause a lot of problems, and so the parents are questioning it. Quote a couple of examples, such as “your grades have declined from A’s to C’s since you started playing games.”
As per the American Academy of Pediatrics, the time allowance for video games on weekdays should be under 30 to 60 minutes per day, and on weekends 2 hours or maybe less is enough. For children under 6, the journal recommends to further tighten the limits and allow only 30 minutes of screen time per day.
Parents need to evaluate the appropriate quantity of time for video games and other electronic devices, especially for children over the age of 6 years. You can also take the help of an “online planner” through which the parents can set limits for screen time. While setting limits, make sure some days of the week involve no gaming time to let your kid develop interests in other non-screen activities.
4. To Counterbalance Screen Time Arrange Active Indoor or Outdoor Activities for Your Children
Even though the outdoor activities may be out of practice, we encourage you to think and plan alternative recreational activities to counterbalance the excessive gaming behavior. Your child is probably gaming either because he is good at it, finds it fun, or has no other activity to fill the time.
To make the non-gaming activities more appealing, involve your child’s friends or choose the activity that you and other family members can be a part of.
Keep track of the newspaper and your community center to check all the currently available programs for youth activity and sports. For example, you can check if anyone is offering a boating ride, sports programs, hiking club, mountain bike trails, adventure trips, or other fun outdoor activities through the newspaper or community center.
It is advised to plan such recreational activities during the times of the days when your child is often busy playing. These offline activities will develop and polish the communication and social skills of your young kids.
Note: Activities do not need to be expensive every time. You can easily arrange night poker parties for your child within budget by even including his friends. To multiply their fun, keep supplying the kids with chips and drinks.
5. Be Consistent In the Monitoring and Application of the Rules
Once you have set the limits and established rules, make sure you do not get distracted. Consistently monitor the rules and apply them equally even if your child is ill or has no homework to do.
Moreover, both the parents need to be equally committed to their proposed limits.
Note: While developing house policy, make sure both the parents are involved. Otherwise, if one of you guys is more into restrictions will be very unpopular amongst your kid in no time.
Parents need to understand that the immediate ceasing of video games will not be effective and may only result in the abusive behavior of their child. You need to be patient. Talk to your child, negotiate everything, and then set limitations.
After the establishment of the house policy, both the parents are required to be consistent and motivated to achieve a healthy lifestyle for their kids.