Video Games: How to Set Limits on Play Time

Video Games: How to Set Limits on Play Time

Shutterstock video games rules two kidsIs Your Child Playing Video Games Too Much?

Most parents feel that their kids are playing video games too long.  It may not be as bad as you think.  If you haven’t read our original article on video game playing time, take a look at what 4 questions to ask yourself to determine if your kids’ video game playing time is too much.   Maybe don’t show this to your kids.  🙂

If Your Kids Need More Limits

If video game playing is interfering with academics, socialization, sleep, or family time, then you may need to rethink the video game playing rules in your home.

6 Rules You Will Want to Start Today

1) Set limits on the times of day when video game play is allowed.

After school may be a great time for kids to unwind and relax from their busy school day, but playing video games right before bed may make it difficult for them to relax and fall asleep.  We recommend setting a certain number of games and/or time limit on video games that can be played after school before homework must begin.  Because some games can last longer than others and it is difficult for the adults to monitor how many games are played, a good rule of thumb is “you may play X number of games or one hour, whichever is longer and then you must turn off the video game and begin your homework.”  Set a timer to help younger children (and resistant teens) know when their time is up.

2) If your child does not follow rule #1, then for every minute the child plays longer than an hour, that time is deducted from the next day (or several days) of game time.  When your child can abide by the rules for three consecutive days, he can go back to following rule #1.  Natural consequences- they work!

3) Your child should not have any personal contact with online people he meets while playing video games.  Stress the importance of internet and video game safety.  If your child is ever contacted privately by someone he has not met before, the child must delete that person and not give any personal information or have conversations with that person.  Stress the fact that even thought the other person SAYS he is your age, it doesn’t mean he is telling the truth.

4) Homework and required/requested chores must be completed before another round of video game time can begin in the same day.  On weekends, feel free to allow more leeway in this area.  Long term assignments need not be completed, but you may set measurable small steps that must be completed.

5) Allow your child to earn extra video game time by engaging with peers (may be a great incentive for kids who find socialization a struggle), family, and other interactions.

6) Do NOT take away video games as a universal punishment unless the use of video games is breaking the rules or interfering with the four areas discussed in the above-cited article.  The mere fact that you know your child loves to play video games should not be used against her.  Nor should it be the “go to” consequence when you can’t think of a more appropriate one that matches the misdeed.  Remember, our goal as parents is to teach our children, not punish them.


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