Q: Our teenage son is extremely intelligent. The problem is he only wants to play video games all day and night when he’s home. It’s a struggle to get him involved in any kind of physical activity or even just to read a book. How can I encourage him to do other things without completely taking his video games away?
A: You’re not alone. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that children aged 8 to 18 now spend more than seven and a half hours every day using electronic gadgets, including game consoles!
We’d suggest it’s time to go beyond “encouraging him to do other things,” and actually set some limits. Sit down with him and explain your concerns in clear language. Tell him you feel things have gotten out of hand and that you’re going to start limiting the amount of time he spends gaming.
Point out that it’s important to live a balanced life that includes interests outside of video games–things like reading, spending time with friends, playing sports, or enjoying the outdoors. Make it clear that you won’t allow any video games until homework and chores are complete.
Then, be sure to follow through! Don’t shrink in the face of whining and complaining. Worst-case, you might need to get rid of the game console for a time. Most parents who stay strong in this battle find that their teens will eventually discover that there’s more to life than pixels on a screen.
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