Video Games and Kids: Tips to Help Cut Back on Your Child's Video Game Usage
Summer will be here before you know it, but you don't want your kids sitting inside all day playing video games. When it comes to video games and kids, sometimes it's hard to say no. Although it's fun to play video games once in a while, it's also easy for it to turn into a habitual time waster. If your children are starting to look a bit like zombies, try these tips to help you cut back on your child's video game usage.
Keep a Log
Photo source: Flickr/Caleb Roenigk
Keeping a log of time spent playing video games can help your child really understand how long they're actually sitting in front of a screen. Before limiting game play, have your child write down how long each gaming session lasts in a notebook, then look over the log together once a week to talk about it. Make a plan with your child to trim down the time spent playing video games. Replace that time with other activities, like reading a book or playing outside.
Plan Family Meals
Photo source: Flickr/Birdboy Johan
Playing video games can be very engrossing, and can often cause a child to become overly solitary. Planning family dinners can encourage your child to spend more time away from the screen. It instills a sense of security and predictability, and helps bond everyone together. Even if the members of your family don't spend a lot of time talking to each other throughout the day, family dinner time allows you to relax and share thoughts and feelings together in a social way.
Arrange Outdoor Activities
Photo source: Flickr/Sue Thompson
Children often turn to video games because they feel bored. But you can help prevent "boredom gaming" by planning outdoor activities for your kids (and their friends). During summer, you'll find a plethora of opportunities for outings, like visiting a museum, playing at a water park, canoeing on a lake, going on a hike, visiting a zoo, or taking a local tour.
Work on a DIY Projects Together
Photo source: Flickr/daveaidan
Help your child develop more constructive interests than video gaming by working on a long-term project together. If you need a little inspiration, visit a hobby shop or your local hardware store. Try to look for a project that looks complex enough to require a lot of time to accomplish, but easy enough for you both to work on it together, like making a treehouse or sewing handmade clothing.
Praise Your Child's Offline Endeavors
Photo source: Flickr/hfcampcherith
Video games create an environment where your child receives awards and recognition continuously. This type of instant gratification might be very hard to replicate in the real world, but you can encourage a more realistic sense of achievement by regularly praising your child's offline accomplishments. Whether your child plays a musical instrument, takes karate, or simply finishes their chores on time, make a conscious effort to praise them for a job well done.
Play Tabletop Games Together
Photo source: Flickr/Nacho Facello
Playing games doesn't have to be digital. In fact, some of the most exciting games can take place right on your dining room table. Tabletop games can satisfy your child's need for game play, while providing them with a very social, imaginative, challenging, and highly interactive experience -- all in the real world. Even if you've never tried a Tabletop game before, like Dungeons and Dragons or Settlers of Catan, they're often easy to pick up and an extremely fun replacement for video games.
Video games and kids often go hand in hand. When your child does spend time in front of a screen, try showing them these top activity-based video games.