I can still see the look on my son’s face 25 years ago when we handed him his very first Gameboy! I don’t know which was wider, his smile or his eyes. Here we are all these years later and he is still playing video games. In fairness, I have to say, that now that he is a parent the amount of time he plays is very limited. Though for many of those growing up years he may not have been addicted to them, but he sure spent as much time playing them as I would allow.
Those of you old enough probably constantly heard the words, “just five more minutes than I can get to the save point” or “I just need to get to the next level and then I can save”. An hour or more later, and after many an argument, if we were lucky they finally got to the save place or next level, so they would come to eat, play outside or go to bed. Frustrating times for sure.
My adult sons now tell me that although they didn’t “lie” they may have stretched the truth a bit about if they shut down the game they would lose EVERYTHING!!!
Video game addiction is an unfortunate reality for some children. It definitely needs to be taken seriously and addressed by a professional. But, in many cases, it is simply kids love the interaction and fun have played them. For these children, it comes down to us being stronger than they are. We need to take control of the situation. And, from what my sons tell me this is easier to do today than it was when they were little.
First off, my son says that most games now can be saved at any point. Even though he tried to push it back in the day, earlier games did not have this feature. So, already you as a parent you are empowered with this knowledge and know that all their fun and hard work won’t be lost.
The best thing you can do as a parent is to set the ground rules from day one. For instance, today’s game systems have timer’s that parents can set to shut off the game. They even give the child a warning letting them know how much time is left. So, on day one SET THAT TIMER!!! Even with the educational video games. Young children especially, can’t differentiate between what is pure fun and what is learning through fun.
I have talked about, how children like it best when there is a routine and know what to expect. Yes, you still may get some screaming and tears that they want more time. But, if from the first time your child plays a video game and the system shuts off on its own after an hour (or whatever you feel is appropriate) they will eventually learn to accept that as the norm.
I have nothing against video games. As a parent, I have seen it help my kids chill and relax from stressful amounts of homework. I remember once when my younger son got frustrated with his math homework. He said he was giving up and just wasn’t going to do it. He began playing a video game. I was fuming inside but decided to stay quiet. About an hour later he comes out and goes back to his room and completed the assignment.
All of us sometimes just need to escape what is in front of us for a bit. Even kids. But, it is our job as parents to help them learn that life is about balance by setting the ground rules and limits of things early in life. Video games ARE fun but need to be balanced with school, chores, friends outside activities and play.