Dear Caring Parent,
Video gaming is something many a parent is pondering these days, looking for parenting information about; the worry being of course that there is too much of a good thing going on in your child’s life. It’s hard if you think your child is out of balance and gaming too much. How do you strike the sweet zone of time limits, having other involvements, and it being about fun and choices and life-is-bigger-than-just-one-activity?
First, remember, there are some video gaming positives:
A hot-off-the-press study from Oxford University found that there’s no noticeable effect, positive or negative, for kids who play one to three hours of video games compared to kids who play none. Although it also found that of the 4,899 British 10 – 15 year olds in the study, children who play console or PC games for an hour or less per day tend to be more social and satisfied with life than kids who don’t play any video games at all (maybe that’s the effect of #2 and 5 of the positives).
So what’s a parent to do, because announcing you are ‘setting limits’ is so conflict generating to many. Limits is such an ugly word to young people. Keep it simple, I say. Talk about this as ‘the way of this household’ and do what you do with many other things:
1.Give a heads up that you are paying attention to this and why. Use the diagram to keep it positive. I got this from David Avocado White’s FB page. And just love it.
2. Give choices! Have your child chose other activities to engage in and let them know that the consequence of not doing it is even further restricted gaming time.
3. When your child can’t make those other engagements actually happen, and is very out of sorts about no-gaming time, check out what is happening in the world outside of home. You might do best with a professionals’ assistance here, but at least check in with the teachers and find out how life is going socially for your child (could be some social anxiety kicking in, or awkwardness, or bullying). Reviewing academic performance is a good idea (just remember, failing or poor grades might mean boredom as in not being challenged, as well as feeling overly challenged or not interested in a subject). Check in with other parents your child hangs out with; what are their gaming norms, what are they doing to engage their kids in other activities.
4. Give rewards! After all, we all love that. And, gaming hits the reward part of the brain. Include just asking them ‘what was rewarding/satisfying/fulfilling to you about doing ……’? Some activities don’t need rewards, they just have intrapsychic rewards; they are inherently rewarding to the self (like scoring a goal or helping another).
5. Those of you who have young children, start all this early in life as the sooner you get into an approach to time limits, the easier things will progress. Overall screen time is becoming the tech effect in question for really young ones. More on that in another blog!
6. What’s your gaming limits? How are you doing in setting an example of a thriving lifestyle? Ah, there’s the rub sometimes!!
In the end, what works for one child is not what works for another. That’s really hard when you have more than one child. But you can be clear with the ‘way of the household’ and with each child, keep it real for them.
Last but not least, if this is not working and all that’s happening is arguments and storms, seek professional help. Something else is muddying the waters here.
I’m going to leave you with a question here. How is video gaming different for you than if your child had a one track mind about books, or band, or their sport? It’s interesting to think about.
Take care now, Natasha
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