Let me gloat for a minute.
A year ago, I felt defeated when it came to my son’s obsession with video games. We had knockdown, drag-out fights about how much time he spent playing the fast-paced, often violent games.
I’d limit his time on the games, and he’d throw a fit. Connor’s mom, who spends much less time with him, had a far more relaxed policy toward video games. Basically, he played almost as much as he wanted.
Over the summer, I took Connor to a youth counselor for some behavior issues, including his desire to play video games for hours on end. I told the therapist that the games hurt his ability to concentrate on homework and made him pull away from me.
The counselor simplified the video game debate.
“Just take them away,” he told me. “Stop trying to regulate the time he spends on video games. Eliminate it.”
Wow, why didn’t I think of that? Sometimes the obvious eludes us as parents.
Connor, obviously, wasn’t happy with the counselor’s edict on video games. But I gave him no choice.
“We’re going to him because you’re having problems,” I told Connor. “We’re going to do what he says.”
We even went on an electronics-free vacation that I chronicled here.
He stops playing cold turkey
For the first three months of this school year, Connor played no video games. Zilch. Nada. I hid the Xbox 360 console to get rid of the temptation.
Connor handled the moratorium much better than I expected. He complained very little. His academic performance improved, and he and I got along better.
Around Thanksgiving, Connor started asking politely if he could play video games again. At first, I said no. I wouldn’t even consider it. I envisioned his video game addiction taking hold again and his attitude worsening.
But then I thought: Do I want to take away video games forever? Maybe he’s begun to understand why I objected to them. Shouldn’t I give him a chance to show maturity in agreeing to limits on his video game playing?
“You can play for 30 minutes,” I told him one day after school. “That’s all. Got it?”
“Yep,” he replied. “Thanks.”
I retrieved the game console from hiding and allowed him to plug it back into the TV. I watched the time closely. At the end of 30 minutes, I walked into the living room and called an end to the gaming.
“All right,” I said. “Turn it off. That’s all.”
“OK,” Connor replied.
Since then, I’ve let him play for up to an hour at a time – but not every day. He hasn’t complained yet about the restrictions.
Article affirms my views
I saw an article online recently on the problem with video games. I read it to Connor.
It said kids with a video game addiction can become withdrawn, not develop other interests, and do poorly in school.
“Once addicted to video games, children were more likely to become depressed, anxious or have other social phobias,” said the article, quoting a study.
Connor listened intently.
“This is what I’ve been talking about,” I told him.
We haven’t talked about video games since. I think he understands my message.
I’m proud of Connor. I think he and I have beaten – or at least controlled — his video game addiction.
It’s a sweet victory for both of us.
If your child has a habit, such as video game playing, that’s out of control take action. Don’t be hesitate to cut out the activity altogether. Maybe you can re-introduce the activity later if the child begins to understand your concerns.