Q&A: Spending too much time on video games

Q: I’m totally in synch with your view that children should only play positive video games – but that’s not our issue. Ours is time. Both of our children play only games with suitable content, but it’s like pulling teeth to get them to quit. Any help here?

A: As you’ve discovered, even games you don’t mind your children playing can be time bandits. Video game makers have definitely figured out not just what it takes to entice children to play, but to keep them coming back for more.

A good rule of thumb for curbing the tendency to overindulge is to require your children to read 30 minutes of a great book in exchange for the privilege of playing a video game for the same amount of time. Or you could require an hour of reading for 30 minutes of electronic screen time (TV, computer, video gaming, etc.). We’d suggest developing and instituting some type of coupon system as currency. However you choose to enforce this, your children will come out winners. They’ll expand their world – increasing their reading skills and knowledge – while keeping gaming activity under control.

A related challenge you might encounter is that your child’s mental clock may tend to “run slow” when it comes to his 30 minutes of gaming privileges. The remedy is to employ a reliable timekeeping device, such as a timer to help enforce the family rule that limited video gaming to 30 minutes per day (an hour on weekends). What better way to limit gaming to what you and your spouse determine is best for your children!

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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