There’s something so satisfying about watching your child interact with video games for the very first time. The delight and confusion, the intense concentration, and the sheer joy wash across their face and you’re again reminded of how much you love them. But what happens when those delightful little moments turn into hours on end, glued to the screen with a blank face? What happens when trying to tear them away turns them into a toddler throwing a temper tantrum?
As the saying goes, too much of anything is a bad thing. Now we’re not saying you should ask your child to stop playing video games cold turkey. That would be a bit of an extreme approach, and one which could ultimately backfire. Like with everything in life, moderation is key. At the end of the day, everyone needs an outlet to relax and unwind – even (if not especially!) kids. We just need to be disciplined as their parents. Plus, if you think about it, even adults enjoy the odd game or two, whether on their favorite console or PC, or playing an online slot game. With all this said, however, even we need to put into practice self-discipline – no matter how great that exclusive no deposit bonus looks. There comes a time we just need to take a break and stop.
But it’s not quite as easy for kids to practice self-discipline. It can be even harder for them than it can be for us! That’s why following some gentle guidelines it the best first step – before you wind up throwing that console into the river.
Set time limits
Screen time exists around the world in billions of households. But it’s how you manage your screen time that really matters. Some parents allow a couple of non-school work hours a day, spent however their children, please. Others allow screen use only between certain hours, for example, 7-7.30 am and 5.30-6 pm. What matters most is that you come up with a system and you stick with it. By setting up rules that can only be budged in very, very special circumstances, you introduce routine, which is calming.
If you find that your child is pushing back when it comes time to pull the plug, make sure to stand strong. While you might get yelled at for a while, they will learn to wrap up faster.
Track game time
Even though you have set time limits on gaming, if you have a clever child they’re likely to find ways around this without you knowing. For example, they might get up in the dead of the night and play for an hour or two with the sound off. You’d be surprised at what lengths some kids go to! This is like an addiction, after all, so you need to expect similar behaviors of an obsessive or addicted adult, if not worse.
By tracking in-game time alongside your set time limits you will know whether your child is sneakily putting in any extra hours you hadn’t agreed to. How you approach disclosing this knowledge could be another issue. We recommend trying to “catch them in the act” rather than admitting to track, since there are ways around that, too.
Introduce other fantasy activities
No matter the game, there is a big dose of escapism when playing, whether you’re a child or an adult. This can find many people sucked into the vortex, running off to a fantasy land because life is too dull or hard, or unfair. This can be self-perpetuating and you get stuck in a gaming loop.
A good way to address this is to break the cycle by adding other fantasy and escapist activities into the mix. For the video gamer, they may also enjoy acting classes, reading books or listening to podcasts, or other story-based past times. If they are truly obsessed you can encourage them to draw their favorite characters and settings and even write fan-fic, or plan elaborate make-believe games based on the game world.
Set bans for breaking gaming rules
While it’s tempting to set video game bans for other bad behavior that isn’t associated with the above and any other game rules you’ve set up, this isn’t the best approach. Make sure to set video game bans for bad behavior associated with gaming.e
Make sure that you also aren’t setting gaming rewards for good behavior – that is, either sticking to gaming rules or good behavior in other life areas. The more hours that are played, the more of a grip the game has. And hey, if worst comes to worst you can always get rid of it, but you might expect to hear how horrible that was for the next 30-odd years.