According to a hospital poll, adolescent boys spend about three hours a day gaming. In the same survey, 9 out of 10 parents expressed that their kids spend too much time gaming to the point that their sleep, social interactions, homework, and extracurricular activities are affected.
The solution is clear: it’s important to moderate your child’s gaming experience. While it’s easier said than done, these tips should help you achieve this challenging feat.
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Talk About It
Prolonged gameplay can lead to poor social skills and decreased sleep, among many other things. So before you start moderating your child’s playing time, it’s best to discuss why you’re enforcing rules in the first place.
Cutting your child’s game time with no prior experience will draw animosity from your child. They may think that their gaming is not doing any damage, and they may not be able to understand why you’re limiting their game time. Talking to them about the consequences of their gaming, such as their low grades or poor social skills, will reinforce your decision to moderate their playtime.
It is crucial to set gaming boundaries with your kid, especially if their habit has taken a toll on their physical, mental, and social health.
First and foremost, you need to be firm in limiting their game hours. The American Academy for Pediatrics recommends 30-60 minutes on school days and two hours (or less) on weekends and other non-schooldays. Moreover, they should only be allowed once your kid is done with their chores, homework, etc.
If your kid is missing sleep because of gaming, a firm way to limit their game time is to turn off your internet router (and keep it in your bedroom) during nighttime. You can also keep their device on ‘lockdown’ until their intended game time.
When setting limits, always be consistent! Don’t change your rules just because you’re busy or your child finished their chores early.
Keep Gaming Public
Gaming can put your child at risk of aggressive behavior, especially if they manage to get their hands on violent games. While using parental controls (to be discussed later) can prevent this, letting your child play in a public area of the house will help as well. Don’t let them play in their bedroom or other closed-off places, as you won’t be able to monitor their gameplay.
By strictly allowing gaming in a public area, you can keep an eye on your child and set time limits easier as well.
Follow Through With the Consequences
There’s a huge possibility that your child will try to break (or bend) your rules. So when you set limits, you need to discuss the consequences of not following them.
Remember: the consequences should be reasonable. It won’t be good to ground them, from say, attending a friend’s birthday party, as this will result in more pushback. A better option would be, perhaps, to remove their weekend gaming hours instead.
Use The Parental Controls
Most consoles and platforms have ‘parental controls’ that you can use to moderate your children’s gaming habits. With this, you can set limits on how much time your kid can spend on the game or device. You can also use it to:
- Determine/filter what games your kid can play
- Manage who the child communicates with on the game/platform
- Prevent online gaming purchases
Play The ‘Right’ Game With Your Child
If you can’t beat them, join them! If you want to moderate your child’s gaming experience and have fun along the way, then play games with your child.
It’s a matter of choosing the right one, though.
For example, there are private Minecraft servers that you can control as a parent while you play with your child. With their whitelist tool feature, you can prevent strangers from joining your server and ruining your parent-child gameplay.
Do Something Else With Your Child
It’s possible that your kid plays excessively because they believe that they have nothing else better to do. You can change this perception by doing something fun一together with the entire family.
Since gaming is a sedentary activity, it’s best to perform some physical activities with your child. Swimming and biking are good options because they’re excellent at burning some calories. They make for good parent-child bonding activities as well!
Be a Role Model
If you want to moderate your child’s habits, then you need to be a role model. If you’re a gamer parent who often plays for hours, it’s time to cut the habit right about now. You won’t be able to enforce proper game time if your kid sees you doing the same thing.
While it may be hard to stop this habit, setting your sights on another activity (as previously mentioned) can keep you and your child’s minds off video games.
Moderating your child’s gaming experience can be challenging at first, especially if your kid has been ‘in too deep’ with their games. That’s why it’s important to set limits, keep gaming public, and follow through with the consequences, as these will keep your child’s gaming habits more manageable.