I have talked to a lot of concerned parents about how much time their kids, usually their sons, spend on video games. Sometimes Moms will ask how we handled the lure of it all, and I don’t know if I give that great of an answer, but it worked for us.
Our policy from Day 1 was that there would be no gaming on weeknights during the school year. There were very few restrictions on weekends. Many times on Friday afternoons our son would fly down the stairs to the basement for unlimited play, coming up only for food on occasion. As far as the actual games allowed in our home, we let the ratings dictate, E games when he was really young, then on to Teen as he grew. As far as I know, we did not have many Mature games in our home, because he moved out as he aged out. There was only one time that we had to say a certain game was not allowed, ever and that was at the advice of our Youth Pastor. This rule would not work for all families, we had an area of the house where he could play without disturbing anyone else, and we were home most weekends.
The best advice I can give younger parents is to start with tight rules; when a kid first gets a game system, they are just thrilled to be playing. Keep a strict schedule until you can see how your child will be affected, you can always lighten up, but it is almost impossible to become more strict after a child has had free reign. This is true for a lot of things with kids; start out strict and then loosen up as they show they can handle the freedom. I do know that gaming is like currency to kids and it can be a great way for them to connect. Conversely, it can be a way for predators to prey on our children, so maybe a close eye and ear is more important these days.
Now that our son is married but still gaming, we have offered some advice; choose a night or two to play with all your friends, everyone agrees on the night and has a lot of fun. All the other nights, be present with your wife. It really is kind of an extension to what we practiced when he was younger. I don’t think gaming is going away anytime soon, so accepting it in your home with boundaries might be the best way to handle it.
Have you found a way to allow gaming while promoting self-discipline? I would love to hear your thoughts.
This may not surprise you, but we did not ever have a gaming system in our home. I know that may seem extreme, but it worked for us and for our boy. I personally do not like the idea of gaming so it would have always been an area of tension for us. I have no problem with it if he with friends who have systems and they play, just not happening in our house.
Yep, doesn’t surprise me a bit. It’s so interesting how different families can be, and yet similar in so many ways.
And guess what, the 20 year old man bought himself a gaming system and now we are figuring out how that works in our house. I spoke too soon. 🙂