Parental Control: Video Game Systems

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Now that my kids are going on play dates, my oldest seems to be requesting the Wii and the game Skylander at home. So far, we’ve been able to avoid console games. However, I suspect this might change shortly.

Parents often tell me that their child plays a console game system too much or that it is a source of tension in the household. Is there a silver bullet as to how much console time your child should get?

Similar to tablets, I believe it’s up to each family to decide what is best for your household. And here are some guidelines on managing a console gaming system in a household.

1. The routine. 

For example, let him play his Wii in the morning when it doesn’t interfere with your morning routine for 20 minutes, which is roughly the equivalent of one TV show. Consider it like his morning cup of Joe to get him going. That said, during the day kids always need a healthy amount of exercise. Make sure games don’t take precedence over exercise.

2. Know your child’s personality.

Some kids are drawn to console games. My youngest recently picked up the Wii controller and knew exactly what to do. I, on the other hand, don’t have a clue. If we get a console gaming system, my youngest will definitely have limited time on it.

3. Get involved.

Not many parents want to learn about the games their kids are playing, but it’s beneficial to take an interest. It helps you understand when your child is about to level up and how long it takes so that when you need to pull the plug on the game (ha, ha!), you aren’t ending it at a critical/potential meltdown point.  Plus, it shows that you are paying attention to what is going on in their world.

4. Set expectations.

Just like adults children, need their expectations to be managed. If your child has been playing for 20 minutes, and dinner is in 10 minutes. let them know! Even if it means standing in front of the TV screen to get their attention.

5. Don’t poo poo their games.

I recently read a post about a reality based avatar game and the Mom couldn’t understand why their son liked it and banned it. In my opinion, that’s a waste of time. Kids are drawn to different games for different reasons. If your child has done their homework and still gets normal exercise, what’s the big deal?  We (the collective “we”) tend to veg out in front of the TV with Grey’s Anatomy or the Real Housewives. For kids, console games are their downtime. The digital games/activities that they engage in are different than our childhood games. We need to remember that.

As always, it’s our job to decide how much console gaming a child should engage in because that’s what parents do – we guide our children. (Heck, my parents are stilling guiding me!)

Do you have a console gamer at home and if so, how much time do they play their favorite game? Tweet me @ weebootMom or email me at weeboot@gmail.com

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