With the increase in children’s screen time – the average teen now spends up to 8 hours online per day – from TV and smartphones to tablets and games consoles, this has given rise to a lot of concern from both parents and professionals. Subsequently, dozens of studies have been carried out into the long-term effects and impacts of gaming, with many highlighting a correlation between violent video games and aggression.
On the other hand, video games can also benefit kids in a variety of ways, from boosting problem-solving skills and enhancing creativity, to building friendships and encouraging learning.
That being said, for many parents, it is important to limit gaming time and ensure children are completing homework, getting some exercise and spending time with friends. As such, here are five fair approaches and methods you can use.
Be a Good Role Model
While you are the parent and therefore set the rules, it can be difficult to reduce the amount of time your child spends playing video games if you are always in front of a screen. Whether this is nights in front of the TV or hours spent scrolling through your phone, try to limit this in order to set a positive example for your kids.
Introduce a Screen-Free Family Day
Rather than just making it about your children’s gaming habits, encourage the whole family to reduce their screen time. You could do this by setting one screen-free day, afternoon or evening a week and discussing alternative things you would all like to do. This could be anything from taking a walk to going out for lunch or visiting a museum.
Set Clear Boundaries
Making sure your kids know when and for how long they can game could help you to limit their gaming time. For example, this could include setting a rule where all consoles and electronics have to be turned off by a designated time, that meals cannot be consumed while playing, or that homework must be completed first.
Make Gaming a Social Event
A fun way to reduce gaming time could be to make it a social event. You could plan evenings where your kids show you how to play their favorite games, or you all choose a new multi-player game that can be enjoyed together. This shows you are open minded to their hobby and allows the whole family to have fun.
Encourage Hobbies and Activities
Is there something your child really wants to try? Perhaps a new activity or sport? Encouraging them to pursue this could be an effective way of breaking their gaming habit while also learning a new skill or becoming more active. This could include whizzing around the skatepark on electric scooters, learning a martial art or taking a dance class.