Can anyone provide advice on cutting out video games from your home? Our 8yr old loves gaming - a little too much - so we've decided to pull the plug and are going to have a family discussion about it tonight. What do you offer replace the passion these kids put into games? Have any of you cut out games completely? I'm embarrassed to admit, but I'm a bit apprehensive about what this will all mean to our child. We know it's the right thing to do though. This is just one of those tough parenting moments, and I would love some support!
I have three boys ages 12, 11, and 9. We introduced video games into our home while they were still preschoolers because "all the other boys were playing them." We knew right away it was a huge mistake because they became practically addicted right away. We still haven't completely done away with them. But we have discussed it many times. I can totally relate to your decision to do it. Right now we limit it to Wednesday afternoons after schoolwork is done and on weekends. They can only play if their chores are done and if they have earned "tokens" by doing additional chores. Each token is worth 30 minutes of screen time, "screen" meaning video game, computer, or TV. So that's our background with the issue.
You had asked what you replace the passion with. Our family reads--a lot--and we read to our kids, even though they are old enough to read themselves. On the days they aren't allowed to play video games they read, play outside, make slingshots, practice archery, ride bikes. We play a lot of board games and chess. Two of my kids like to play the keyboard. No formal lessons, just picking out songs they have heard. Just providing lots of opportunities for kids to be creative and explore their interests is enough. They will eventually find their niche and the passion will grow. The key is to provide them with lots of opportunities to explore and allow them to try different activities. Give them room to be creative.
It's probably going to be painful at first--or your child might surprise you and not put up much of a fuss. But they will adjust and find new passions to replace gaming.
I soooo appreciate where you are right now. I have a 9YOB who LOVES to play his DS. It got to the point where he had to take it everywhere...supermarket, bank, you name it. After having yelling matches at bed time (myself included, I'm ashamed to admit) over "one more life, or one more round", we finally reached a compromise.
We set a time limit (a half hour on school nights, an hour on each weekend night-complete with kitchen timer) that he could play his DS each night, and for every minute that he argued with me about "surrendering the game", it cut into his time for the following night. He also earned extra time for completing outdoor/other interest activities. For example, my son is in the high reading group at school, and they are required to read twenty minutes a night. If he chose to read an additional twenty minutes, this gave him an extra 5 minutes of playing time. However, even the extra time had its limitations. It could only be doubled--up to an extra 30 min on weeknights, and an hour on weekends. It wasn't long before he was bringing me our monthly zoo&aquarium newsletters, and asking about classes. I know that initially it was to earn extra points, but it turned out to be the perfect thing that he needed to get into his old interests again.
He still loves his DS, but seems to be more easygoing about turning it over at the end of the night. Don't know if limiting time or cold turkey would be best for you, but just wanted you to know that there IS light at the end of the tunnel...like some earlier parents said, you have to stick to your guns, and don't back down. I KNOW it's hard but it CAN be done!! Good Luck and Hang in there!!
As a side note...have you considered games that the whole family can play? My son LOVES trying to teach me how to play his new games...think he likes watching me screw up all the time, but it gives him experience in teaching a skill, sharing his belongings, and gives me quality time with my son. Very often topics will come up in conversation that may not have come up before.
Thank you so much Jenv and Andrewsmom! I really felt so alone, because as you said, EVERYBODY else seems to be playing games. I truly appreciate your personal stories and suggestions.
We had already tried severely limiting the amount of time, and making sure that all work was done before games could be played. Our son is a really good boy, and he followed all our rules. It was becoming obvious though that he was obsessing all day about getting to play the games. I would catch him kind of zoning out when I was speaking with him, and when I asked him what was on his mind, he would admit it was the prospect of playing games later.
I just realize that at this age, I still have control, and we needed to make the changes now while we still can. It's REALLY hard though - on me :-) We all want so much for our children to just be happy. Sometimes being a parent is sooo tough! Today was just day one, but he seems resigned to the whole thing, and I'm trying hard to play more board games (which he loves), and as you suggested read more stories that he really likes.
We're going to allow him to play games on one weekday morning. Hopefully, that is enough for him to enjoy, but still infrequent enough that he won't be thinking of gaming every minute.
Thank you both again, and if anything else comes to mind, please post it!!
My husband and I play a lot of video games.
Have you tried the Wii? It's very hands on. It's technically a video game but you are also working out. Try purchasing the Wii Fit...
Married with Kid...
Loving my boys!
These are great ideas, thank you! Now, any advice on how to get my husband to agree that limits need to be set? He's a gamer himself, you see, and doesn't think it's a problem that his seven-year-old only wants to play videogames and when he can't, he sits in his room and stares at the wall or watches his dad or the other kids play their games. (He's my stepson, so maybe I don't get a say? But I don't want my own kids growing up like this.)
I have an 8yob and we have a wii. He asked like crazy to play when we first got it and when ever he gets a new game. However, I rarely let him play. It is often two weeks or more between. Definitely a no on school nights and that leaves weekends. I work most Saturday mornings and we go to church on Sunday followed by lunch with my parents. We've already established a lack of time by keeping busy and I usually counter his requests with something we can do together!
When he does get to play the time is limited by my activity. Usually cleaning the house or doing homework (second time around college student), generally things he wouldn't or couldn't participate in. When this happens he usually gets several hours of play time and it tends to keep him happy with it. We also don't burn through games and have him begging for new every time I blink!
As to keeping other family members on board with the time commitment, try working out family game time? If there are too many of you to play one thing together work out some sort of rotation. Console time vs board game time. Maybe that way everyone will get to play but not the same thing all of the time.
Well, you could always try introducing your kid to some hobbies. Maybe he could start collecting something?
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Last edited by jrcarlstrom; 05-07-2010 at 11:01 AM.