How to set limits for your children when gaming - By Brooke Strickland

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

Video games can be a fun way to kill time and for young kids, there can be educational benefits when playing certain online learning games.  Video games in and of themselves aren’t bad.  But when they begin taking over free time – consuming it – and if you can’t stop thinking about the game when you aren’t playing, then there’s something wrong.

Or, if you are neglecting other parts of your life or if you are seeing a decline in your relationships, work performance, or grades at school, then there is a problem.  Maybe it’s your children that you are worried about. Setting gaming limits is very important. Here, we discuss how to set limits for your children when it comes to video game use.

First of all, look at your child as a whole. How is he or she functioning in school and at home? What are their grades like? Are they maintaining solid friendships, completing homework on time, or are they disrespecting authority and pushing the limits in order to get attention?  Look at your child’s overall well-being and consider how gaming is affecting their life, if at all.  If gaming is becoming a problem, as a parent, you need to step in and set strict limits.
Tip 1: Communicate your goals.  Explain to your children why you want to see them succeed and explain that you believe that the games are getting in the way of that. Be specific about what guidelines you are going to set and what the consequences are if they don’t follow the new set of rules.

Tip 2: Start weaning them off of them slowly. If your child is allowed to play video games for 4-5 hours a day and you feel that they are detaching from real life with that much screen time then start weaning them.  Remove an hour each week, so they are being limited but not feeling it as drastically. If you want the games out of your home entirely, weaning is probably the best idea, since going complete cold turkey can cause a lot of anger and anxiety for individuals that are showing true signs of compulsion or gaming addiction.

Tip 3: Don’t waver! Be empowered! You are making the best choice for your family when you are limiting screen time. Sure, there are some educational positives in using technology, but teaching your child to interact well and be confident in social situations comes from actually interacting face to face, not sitting in front of a screen for hours on end in a dark basement.  Be strong – you are making the right choice for your family!

In the end, you need to listen to your gut and do what feels right for you and your family.  Video game and technology is very real and can be devastating. For more information, visit