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August 24, 2019

Helping them find a balance between screen time and the real world

Why do I feel like I say that to my kids at least once a day. You say no video games then the dramatics set in and the world is pretty much over and your child won’t make it another day. The problem is they are so addictive that when they are playing the game it is so fun that it is tunnel vision. The issue that I have is that it is an easy babysitter in my home. Okay I am a good mom I swear however, it is SO easy to say “go play your game” or “go have screen time” just so you can have an hour of peace and quiet to yourself. But then once the kids get used to having all of that screen time every day it becomes something they rely on and think that they NEED to play it. It becomes such a constant that they feel like if they don’t play it’s the end for them. So how do we explain to them that there is a real life. It doesn’t impact your life in anyway if you DON’T play it without cutting them off cold turkey.


I understand that every child is different and every child has different hobby interests so that is why I don’t cut them off because they enjoy it and they bond over the games together and I love that. But sometimes if I say “okay tonight no games maybe we can do something different” it is like I tossed a plastic knife to them and asked for a kidney. The instant fit throwing was a sign that I needed to positively approach the issue to them without sounding like a bad guy trying to take away something they enjoyed. I had to explain to them “it isn’t real, the game is NOT REAL” but to them they love it and they feel like they have accomplished so much in the game and I don’t want to take that from them because to me it seems silly, but to them they are having a nice time. But after a while it feels like chores are skimped on, homework is rushed and there is no desire to do anything else.  There were some things we did around the house to make the kids want to try new things on top of still getting their screen time playing their favorite game.


Just because you don’t enjoy video games doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy them Even if video games are not fun for you, they are fun for them and we need to accept that just because we find them useless they love it. I remember when I was younger video games were fun. Spryo on the PS2! Come on it was so fun hanging out playing fun games for hours with friends while eating junk food. And that was our way of either spending quality time alone or with friends. As we got older we started focusing our attention on other things like work and school and although a lot of adults play video games it isn’t as much as kids. Think about our kids having the time of their life just make sure they know that they need to focus on real life too.



Have a screen time schedule This one was huge in our home because once the schedule was created for both children it became habit and there was zero alarm when it was time to get off of the game. We have timers for the kids and I feel if they know how much time they have they don’t get too upset because they already have the warning it will be ending. We have a schedule to where the kids can play monday, wednesday and friday for an hour once homework and chores are done. On the weekends, we are more flexible but still have a schedule but with more allotted time. I feel with a set schedule the kids know they only have a certain amount of time after school to play they reach out and find other fun creative things to do. It was hard at first but now it is normal and they just sign off their game on their own when the timer goes off. 



Help them find fun alternatives  So my biggest pet peeve on non game days or when their time is up they decide they want to hound me and bug me every five minutes.  Most of the time I swear they do it so I say “FINE GO PLAY YOUR GAME” try to get me to crack and most of the time I do because I am busy or need time alone ect. But I have been working so hard to stand strong and say “Hey go find something fun and creative to do” and most of the time they just stare at the wall because they don’t know how to function without a controller. We started helping them find new things to do such as board games, outdoor time riding bikes or scooters, baking something fun or helping with dinner. Once we have established new fun hobbies [I know, it sounds sad when I say bike riding is a fun new hobby...I am doing my best over here ;) ] they have started to find things to do on their own or make suggestions to the house which is awesome.



Overall video games seem annoying and obsessive however, sometimes we have to chill and allow them to do the things they enjoy within reason of course. Help them find that balance between enjoying their games and coming back down to earth with the rest of us non video game players. 



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