How do I get my 10 year old to stop playing video games?

Parents often report how difficult it is to reduce the time their children spend playing video games. If so, there are compelling reasons to make the effort. Research shows that playing video games for more than three hours a day is detrimental to your child’s psychological adjustment and academic performance. So limiting playtime to less than three hours a day, especially on school days, is worth it.

With a 12 year old, set the general parameters of what you will allow. If your child truly loves video games and does well in school, allowing two hours a day of school isn’t inappropriate, although it may be on the high end of expert recommendations. Consider allowing your child to spend a little more time playing video games on the weekends with a slight reduction during the weekdays. To achieve this, you will want to have a very clear discussion about why you are concerned and what you plan to do with your child. Help him become part of the solution so he doesn’t see himself as a prisoner of his parents’ whims.

Decide what you can live with

Take a couple of days to study your behavior.

Do you start slamming the wardrobe doors when your child has been using a screen for more than half an hour? Do you start walking the corridors after forty-five minutes? He looks for signs of nervousness, like mindless snacking.

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Why did I want to solve my child’s obsession with video games?

There is a huge difference between using technology to consume mind numbing, worthless and addictive materials and using technology to be creative and innovative. You would never have caught Steve Jobs or Bill Gates playing Pokemon Go or Clash of Clans for hours on end. They were “creating”… not “consuming” someone else’s creativity.

If my daughter asks me to use Adobe Premiere on her computer to edit a family video, I have no problem doing it for hours, because she is using her brain for a creative skill. You are building a skill that can be used throughout your life. Ali Partovi, consultant for Facebook, Dropbox and Zappos, noted that “Just as I would never dream of limiting the time a child can spend with his brushes, or playing his piano, or writing, I think it’s absurd to limit his time spent creating computer art, editing video, or programming computers

For more information

  • Caught in the Net, by Kimberly S. Young (Wiley, 1998)
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Help Eliminate Technology Addiction

Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services provides outpatient treatment for teens struggling with addiction video games and other technologies. To get your children started on reclaiming their real life, or to find out more about this and our other addiction treatment programs, contact us today.

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