“Just five more minutes, Mom/Dad!”
If you’re a parent, you know all too well that this is the mantra of most kids when you’re trying to get them away from their electronic devices—whether it’s an Xbox, smart TV, computer, smart phone, or Nintendo, etc. And while some games, shows, apps, and websites can be educational, too much time with hands and eyes glued to electronics simply isn’t healthy for growing minds and bodies; in fact, video gaming addiction is a growing concern in the field of psychology and addiction. Gaming addiction is defined as a compulsive or uncontrolled use of video games in a way that causes problems in other areas of a person’s life. It takes over as the main way of coping with life, with other important areas being neglected or disrupted as a result.
Here are a few strategies for limiting kids’ electronics time, especially important during no-school months:
- Use old-fashioned timers – older children can set their own timers while you’ll probably have to supervise younger ones. In either case, be sure to let kids know that when the timer goes off, that’s it: Device down.
- Many kids get caught up in the “I’m almost at the next level” scenario, and want to keep playing until they achieve their game goal. Communicate to them that they need to take a break as soon as that level is reached, say, within the next five minutes.
- Regardless of age, electronics are a privilege and it’s a good idea to make usage an earned privilege. Try keeping a chart of age-appropriate responsibilities and determine how much electronics time will be rewarded for completing each task.
- Especially for younger children, have another activity lined up for them once they’ve put down their device. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, but a short time of physical activity is a good counter-balance to screen time.
- Determine what the consequences are of not adhering to electronics time rules, communicate them, and stick to them.