I fought. I really did.
I used every weapon in my parenting arsenal to keep my kids from gaming. I had read all the studies on how children developed neurological impairments, eating disorders, and back issues (yes, back issues!) from gaming.
Together, my husband and I used gaming restrictions, limited access to app stores, and somewhat successful consequences for spending too much time playing video games. Eventually, we learned that sometimes, the best form of parenting isn’t to suppress a kids’ interest, but to become a part of it.
Here are some things I learned while raising gamers.
1. Ask questions. It’s ok to ask what they’re playing and who’s playing it.
“What is the game about?”
“What is the goal?”
“Can I try?” (My kids actually respect me for being able to use a controller)
Encourage your kids to critically think about how games are designed to keep someone’s attention for long periods of time. If they had designed the game, what would they have done?
2. Set reasonable blocks of time.
You can’t expect your kid to start a new level and then walk away from it when they’re right in the middle of it. For my kids, they have already set times with their friends (ex: 8-10 pm) and they do other activities or finish their chores in advance.
3. Find out who’s online.
Nearly all games now come with an online option that allows other users to join in. There are benefits and drawbacks of course. For some kids, the social aspect can become the brightest part of their day. I will sometimes hear my kid roar with laughter while gaming and it’s the best feeling. Other times, some kids will join in a group chat and start using foul and abusive behavior. Make sure you’re aware of the chat options and feel free to walk in and read the messages when they least expect it 🙂
What are some ways you’ve managed your kids’ gaming? Share your experience in the comments so everyone can benefit.