video game addicted kid

Breaking the Video Game Addicted Kid

Several months ago, we took a trip to my sister’s house in another state for a week. It’s always fun to watch all the little cousins playing together. My kids love their cousins’ house because they have a big basement and that basement is a toy wonderland. One part of the basement that my son zeroed in on was the video gaming system. Normally, we have daily time restrictions but we figured we would let it go since we were on vacation. He played for hours a day, rarely choosing to do anything else. We were surprised by how his personality changed. He became more irritable, self-focused, and prone to disobedience. The amount the cousins fought was closely connected to how much video game time they had.

We finally decided to cut it off and my son flipped. The gaming system had complete control over him. Through it, he was getting stimulation but it was costing him relationally. So we explained to him that our highest priority as a family is having good relationships with each other; therefore, his gaming cycle needed to be broken. If you have a kid with a video game addiction, here are 3 options you can use to make a change.

Note: I’m not against video games. In fact, I love playing with my kids. However, I have seen the negative effects firsthand and also have seen the benefits of each of the options below.

Option 1: Designate times

Video games train kids to expect instant gratification and results.

The more they play, the more they expect life to give them things easily. The only way to fight that is to restrict their playing. Limit the amount of time they are able to play video games daily. We used to have a half an hour limit each day. Friends of ours have a weekend only policy. Keeping this restriction will help them understand what it takes to set limits on themselves. Have them set a timer. When the buzzer goes off, the system goes off. If they don’t set the timer and don’t stop voluntarily, then give them a consequence.

Option 2: Make them earn game time

Option 1 works well, but I must say that this option has been even more effective. This negates some of the feelings of instant gratification because they have to put the work in beforehand. Make them complete their school work and chores in order to play video games. You could also allow them to earn video game time based on how they treat people, particularly you, their mom, and their siblings. This also reduces their sense of entitlement.

Option 3: Take it away

You can take it away from them in two ways. First, you can take video games away from them as the first consequence to any wrong committed. When they are disobedient they lose a day. When they lie they lose a week or more. You can use this in conjunction with option 2 also. When they are disobedient they lose the privilege, but they can reduce the lost time by serving the family in a big way. The second way is to get rid of it altogether. A child does not need video games to have a rich childhood. If your child can’t handle it, toss it. Your family may be better off.

Sound Off

What strategies have you used with your kids?

BJ Foster

BJ Foster is the Director of Content Creation for All Pro Dad and a married father of two.

  • Isaac O. Omibeku PIO

    Lovely! You’re such an amazing children handler. With this, I will have to watch out and also set boundaries for my children. You’ve opened my eyes I’ll also help friends with it. Thank you

  • Ryan Shipp

    So far, my daughters have not shown much interest in video games. However, they LOVE watching silly videos on Youtube. We have recently purchased a device that connects to our router and both filters for content and puts time limits on their devices. It has been great, and our daughters have already learned that when they hit their limit, it’s time to put the device down and rejoin the family!

    • Bjorn Olson

      What is the name of this device?

  • George

    Why are some things “OK, because we’re on vacation” ? I’ve never understood that line. There’s a reason that young kids need to have hard limits on things like TV and video games. Because research has proven that that type of stimulation can be as addictive as crack cocaine, they crave it, some more than others. You deliberately allowed your son to play for “hours a day”. What did you expect? Of course he wanted to keep playing. That’s what I wanted to do.

    I’ll give a little insight into my childhood. I was a bright child, but I remember that I always felt a bit bored, and that the world wasn’t as interesting when I couldn’t watch TV, especially as a younger child. I enjoyed watching Gomer Pyle, Gilligan’s Island and other reruns. And could easily sit there and watch 1 to 2 hours easily at a sitting, maybe 2 to 3 times a day. It was my fix. Relatively harmless shows, but still a time waster. Then as a teen, video games came into the picture. I loved them. And loved to play at the arcade (when they existed), and then on the Commodore 64, and then on the PC. I and my brother and friends could spend hours doing that. After college, I began doing local LAN game parties and online gaming with friends. Those actually had some redeeming value since it was social, and fun talking and playing the same game with friends. But we would often play into early morning, both at the LAN parties and online maybe 2 times a week.

    I also was interested in math and tech, and became a successful software engineer. So, I could devote hours to playing, tinkering and programming PC’s and software. I could get so focused on something, that I could literally spend hours working on it. Which is in many ways a good thing, but also can be a bad thing if it interferes with sleep and life.

    So, my main point is that I’ve always struggled with “how much is enough” when it comes to TV, gaming, or even reading books. I know my parents certainly didn’t encourage me to watch tons of TV, but I think maybe if they (especially my Dad) would’ve taken more of an interest in how much I was watching, and spent more time with me, then I maybe wouldn’t have struggled with the “time wasting” aspect of modern technology.

    I learned other hobbies, and did enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities, sports like rollerblading, and being in the band, playing piano, etc. I wasn’t a total junkie, but I probably have my parents and my fairly structured life to thank for that. But I usually did just enough to do well at all those things, and wonder if I had been wasting less time on TV and video games, how much better I could be in general?

    Just some thoughts.

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