A parents’ advice to help discern whether or not your child is playing too many video games. Plus, tips on what to do if they are.
I’ve seen firsthand what playing too many video games can do to children. It can have a crazy effect on them. A perfect example is my five year old daughter. She can go from being a little princess to an unholy rage monster quicker than you can say “It’s a me, Mario!” I’m talking crazy crying, sibling punching, ground stomping and judo rolling on the ground type tantrums here. But this is an obvious example of a child who’s been playing too many video games. What about the other signs or symptoms of “binge gaming”.
“She can go from being a little princess to an unholy rage monster quicker than you can say “It’s a me, Mario!”
I’ve mentioned in another article that I have six kids with varying ages and all of them react differently to playing too many video games. Some signs are obvious (as mentioned above) while others are more subtle but are definitely present. Below is a list, in no particular order, of symptoms your children might display if they’ve played video games for too long.
In-Game Symptoms and Signs.
This first list deals with kids exhibiting overexposure while in a game:
- They throw a tantrum when you tell them there time is up
- They start giving you attitude and begin to get stroppy
- They begin mumbling under their breath at their in-game frustrations
- They start being violent with their controller, mouse or keyboard
- They vent their in-game anger and frustration on their siblings
Out of Game Symptoms and Signs
Individually, the symptoms on this next list may be innocent enough. But when you have a combination of three or four that repeat over and over and over, then this may definitely be a sign your child is playing too many video games.
- They hound you over and over to be able to play video games
- They don’t want to do activities with the family, they’d rather stay home and play games
- They recede socially, and show more happiness when they’re playing games then when they’re interacting with others
- Their conversations only revolve around video games i.e. upcoming games, things they like about games, things they don’t like etc.
- Even real life playtime (e.g. play fighting) is video game centric. They like pretending their characters from video games
So My Child Plays Too Many Video Games. So what?
Check out the video below. It’s a news story focusing on two case studies of individuals that play too many video games. One is a 14 year old boy while the other is a 44 year old Father. While nothing is scientifically proven in the video, it does highlight common problems that families are dealing with today.
Does anything you saw in the video look or sound familiar? If so, then maybe you should try my tips below.
Tips On How To Stop Kids Playing Too Many Video Games
- Talk to them
- Set timelines, rules and passwords
- Turn the power off
- Remove the console or computer
- Take them to see a specialist
- Send them to a recovery workshop
Talk To Them
Seems obvious right? No doubt you’ve already tried this before google searching your problem, but, I’m not just talking about simply reprimanding them. I’m talking about having a deep and meaningful conversation. This is important so you can help them realise what affect their gaming is having on you. You’re literally concerned with their emotional well-being, their mental health, their future livelihood.
Set Timelines, Rules And Passwords
As a parent you must take a stand. Have the courage and determination to set strict timelines and rules. For example, my children can only play video games if they’ve done their homework, showered and have completed their daily chores. If they hit two out of three, they’re tough out of luck and will not be able to play games. And if they complete everything they need to, then they might be able to play for 30 minutes or an hour. With this formula they might be play 2, or even 3 times from Monday to Friday. On weekends, they can’t play on Sunday and have to complete chores before they can play on Saturday. It’s very common for my children to go without video games for a complete week.
“Set user passwords and family restrictions on their console so they cannot play without a parent signing them into an account.”
I’ve also set user passwords and family restrictions on their console so they cannot play without a parent signing them into an account. Likewise they can’t buy or purchase anything online without entering a password first. To do this, see the below links:
Turn The Power Off
This one seems simple… because it is. The repercussions however, may be the difficult part here. I’m talking about your child kicking and screaming and becoming uncontrollable. I’ve had my 14 year old punch a hole in the wall after turning off his Mother turned his Xbox off while he was playing Fortnite. I, the Father, was away for work at the time. My Son had done something he shouldn’t have so his game was turned off. After his outburst, he wasn’t able to play for three months and he had to work to save money to repair the damage to the wall. Punching the wall was a mistake he’s never repeated. I’ll talk more about my oldest at the end of the article.
I personally use a smart plug combined with my Alexa app. If I’m upstairs and the kids start fighting, I simply say “Alexa, turn off plug.” and that instantly depowers the playroom. If you’re interested in it, check out the latest Amazon price here for a smart plug.
Remove The Console Or Computer
This is very similar to turning the power off. However, if you haven’t set passwords to game accounts (see above) then your child can simply turn everything back on. The next step is to take away a component that renders the console/computer useless. Whether it’s a controller, power cord, the PC tower, or the actual console, sometimes this is the best deterrent for children who play too many video games. You’ll need to keep it away until you believe your child has somehow earned to have it back.
Take Them To See A Specialist
This is serious territory now. If your child is too far gone where none of the above mentioned steps have any affect, then you may need to take them to see a specialist. Testament to the problem that is video game addiction, one simply has to Google “Video game addiction recovery” to see a host of companies offering parents relief. And that is my advice to you. Search out a local specialist and take your child to see them.
Send them to a recovery workshop
“With the World Health Organisation actually listing Gaming Addiction as a mental health disorder, you may have no choice but to send your child to a recovery program.”
With the World Health Organisation actually listing Gaming Addiction as a mental health disorder, you may have no choice but to send your child to a recovery program. Some well-known programs in the US are: The Elk River Treatment Program, Addiction Center, Unplugged Utah Treatment Program, Rise Gaming Recovery As a general disclaimer, please do your research into any recovery program before you send your child to attend.
In closing, I wanted to talk about my eldest Son who, as of writing, does not play video games any more (or until the foreseeable future). Our Son’s attitude towards his education and his family was in complete disarray. So as a consequence he was banned from all video games until we felt he’d made a suitable adjustment. It’s been two months now and while he is by no means perfect (like all of us) his attitude, personality and general persona has largely changed for the better.
Good luck to any parents out there who may be struggling. As always, feel free to leave comments and let me know what has or hasn’t worked for you.
Conversely, if your problem is figuring out to play more video games as an adult check out my article – How to play games after you’ve had kids.
By Izzy Davis | 2019
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