What amount of time would YOU be comfortable having your child play video games every day? Make that your limit. Easy-peasy.
Invite discussion with the wee ones based on the concerns at hand. Be really specific if you need to, but casual and conversational. "So about the video games... I think some limits are in order for our family and home There are some things I am worried about with them, and I'd like to hear your thoughts on it too. We can all shape what this is going to be. So, how do we all go about this?"
Tweaked to your kids, their ages, the way you all talk, etc.
ITA that you should get his input. Sit down with him & explain that spending tons of time on the game is not healthy and explain why. ITA with the posters who likened it to junk food. See how he would like to approach it. Would he like certain days as game days? Probably doing an hour a day isn't working because he's just getting into it. So he could do it only on wknds or one day during the wk, something like that? Or the bank of hours/wk is another great idea. Just ask him. I think, especially in the long term, he'll be thankful for your understanding and your wanting to help him limit it & keep him healthy and interested and good at other things.
We also didn't limit McD's really. Well, finances did that often enough without my help I suppose.
Some parents and families prefer to not have controlling or punitive rules, limits, or punishments in place. :)
I am not controlling, I don't have punitive rules, and I don't dole out punishments for the sake of being the big person. However, yes. I do in fact have limits. Some children aren't going to be able to work within the context of how your family has. If my mom let me determine how often I could have McDonalds and only discussed with me the risks, shared her concerns, and modeled good practices... I would have had Mcdonalds as often as she could afford it. I'd be in a much worse position than I am now because as it stands, I suffer from food addiction/overeating. I can quite literally eat McDonalds every day without getting sick of it and even when I feel symptoms of eating crap every day.... I struggle to STOP myself from going back for more. So yes, my child has limits in place for unhealthy things. I won't watch her turn into me while I do nothing to help guide her into healthier practices.
Some people simply CAN'T step back and all the concerned words, shared stories, and trying to work together in the world won't stop them from continuing on with something that simply is not healthy. Addiction and long lasting unhealthy behavior doesn't happen because someone was bored one day and was too stupid to stop. Limitations for children don't have to be controlling or come with unnecessary punishments and your assumption that those of us who DO have limits must also be controlling and punitive and implying that limitations are bad is very narrow minded. Sometimes, parents DO know what is best for their children and what is best might mean being the mean parent who puts limits in place on things the kids would otherwise do/have way too much of with no ability to regulate.
OK, didn't read all the posts, sorry.
I don't think you are mean. We have a rule that if you wine and cry about something like a game, then you lose it for a day. DS got so bad that he would be playing gameboy while going to the bathroom, pee not poo. Well, poo too, but he couldn't put it down. I didn't regulate at that time and when it got to the point that he would rather miss meals than put it down, we took it from him. I explained that I couldn't allow him to become that addicted to a game so we had to put it up for a while. After about 6 months we brought it back out and he started the same behaviors, so we took it again, for another 6 months. Now, he regulates himself just fine.
I honestly believe that some children become addicted and obsessed with screen type activities and need time to mature, time to outgrow that obsession and then they can begin to self regulate. For DS maturity is what he needed before allowing him free access to any activity.
AND yes, I have had to take books away from him when he started refusing to come to dinner without the book in his hand. He refused to make his bed, or even take a shower because he was really INTO his book. I have had to take his bike away because he refused to come in when it was dark. Mind you, as he matured he learned to self regulate, but it took that maturity, until then I had to set limits on his activities. Usually those rules were not arbitrary, like 1 hour. But based on other things going on. You can't throw a fit about putting down your activity when it is time to do chores, go to school, do homework, eat meals, or take care of hygiene. If it interferes with any of those, the activity gets removed for a time (usually a day and if a tantrum insues, then a few days).
I guess I'm mean too.
This is very true. But this situation? This behavior you're describing here? I think it's very different than the situation where most parents are limiting. I think the situation you're talking about: where someone can't seem to stop to eat, sleep at all, drink, use the bathroom, misses work, misses a class, misses showering or changing clothes or brushing teeth, etc. is the exception. It's what is feared might happen, and it's what leads to the limiting. I also think it's pretty rare in this severity.
More often I think what we have are people that game a lot. A lot more than others even. People who prefer to play video games to going out, watching movies, or hiking (trying for random activity xyz here lol) The amount of time they spend playing the games makes other people uncomfortable because it isn't what they'd do. And when you add it to all the back and forth there has been in the news and etc about the addictive nature of games, how bad the content is and so on I think it's easy to get panicked. I mean I know people who knit for 10 hours a day, but it's rare people get all twitchy about that. kwim?
During many discussions over the years as soon as the conversation turns to parenting and people hear how we did or didn't do things I get a handful of questions each time. One of them is "So, you'd never step in and stop them from doing anything no matter what?! What if it was heroin? What if they were starving themselves?!" And so on. I sought and still seek to have a mindful relationship with my kids. Mindful means aware and honest, both about what is actually happening and responses to it. I don't believe that someone who is addicted to heroin is making decisions from a healthy, clear mind or heart and I would intervene because it would be the most mindful, kind thing to do. If my child wasn't ever eating or sleeping and was slipping into sickness due to gaming he couldn't control? I would intervene for the same reasons.
Sometimes I think we panic early. I include myself in that category too.
Without really getting into the debate, I did want to add my experience.
My oldest (it has become clear) is really susceptible to the addictive qualities of screen (all types). We've done a lot of different things, and I don't know that what we do now is perfect, but it's working for our situation right now.
We don't want to eliminate screen time entirely. It seems impractical to us in the modern world. He learns a lot from some of the games he plays and programming he watches. Both his parents do large portions of their work and play on-screen, someday he may have to. But he cannot (truly, CANNOT) self-regulate his screen usage. It interferes with every part of his life, and with every part of our family life if we don't place limits.
What we eventually did was reach clarity within ourselves about what we were willing to allow, and then had a family meeting (which we don't do often) to identify the problem and find solutions. Going in, I knew that I would be okay with up to 14 hours/wk of screen time TOTAL for him. We explored the problem from each persons' perspective, and brainstormed solutions. No solution could exceed 14 hours/wk. We ended up with 30 minutes of watching a cartoon (less problematical for him, more ritualized) before bed each night, plus 2 "screen days" per week (he can do whatever allowed screen he wants all day as long as he cooperates with eating, bathroom, etc. and does any other 'required' activities for the day like grocery shopping or whatever - usually this works out to about 5 hours/day). For him, spreading the allowed time out over the week doesn't work because then he gets mad at the limitations every day. This way, we have 2 'withdrawal' days each week, which still can suck. But he doesn't have unrealistic expectations about what we will allow or not allow, and we don't have unrealistic expectations that he will regulate something he can't. We're open to changing this arrangement if needed, but we're leaving it alone for right now due to some other issues that are more pressing.
Yes, this. Some child can self-regulate about some things; some can't. I was exactly the same way with reading and I still remember a meeting we had in elementary school with the school nurse, my teacher, and my mom. ---> No more reading on the playground. I was crushed but I did learn to play basketball. Actually, I spent a lot time writing nasty thoughts in my little notebook and then gave in.
My kids get screen time tickets. They get 7 each week that can be cashed in for a half hour of screen time. They can use them however they like. We have so much less conflict now than when it was specifically a half hour a day of screen time. They usually play an hour or hour and a half on the first day, then half an hour or an hour every day or two until they run out. They get to be in charge. We also watch a family movie once a week that doesn't cost tickets, and occasionally allow free educational computer time.
I think kids need limits.
I totally agree. My niece, a computer tech guru, happens to be a WOW widow at 24. My son, who is her cousin and knows NO moderation went to her house, her fiance let him use their XBox. Now, he has one of his own that he cut grass to purchase himself. Not like he's never played. He went to their house, started playing at 4pm and was still playing at 6am. They thought for certain he'd get tired and go to bed like his brother does. Nope, 14 hours straight and was still playing. They were finally able to understand why we force him to go outside because he has no limits! His brother, on the other hand, would put the Xbox away and choose to go outside. So we have to enforce 1hr screen time during the week. About once a month sometimes twice, we let them just go on as long as they like on a Saturday night.
I am enjoying learning everyone's approach and opinion on "Screen time." I just wanted to contribute: during one of my nursing rotations I facilitated parent-child counseling on diet and health for over-weight children, and we counseled on limiting screen time to 2 hours / day. I am not sure where this magic number came up, but as a mother of a 5.5 year old who loves computers, I see this as reasonable. I appreciate the comment that "addictions" can be crutches: we counseled a 9 year old to not read so much (right?) because he was using it to avoid recess and exercise. LOL! I also agree that teaching a child about self-regulation (limit-setting) is a golden rule; just how to do that, I am learning as I go, and would like to hear that discussion amongst parents too. Bests!
Wow, what a great discussion. I've got a 10-year-old stepson and a 39-year-old husband who BOTH have addiction issues with the screen. When I met my husband, five years ago, he had just started playing World of Warcraft. I didn't know much about it, didn't worry about it. He wanted me to play as well, so that we could share it...and I appreciated the fact that he wanted to do something he enjoyed with me, so I got involved. I just didn't feel the same draw to it, and would be SO over it after an hour (or less). Then, my stepson got involved in WoW, and the involvement, for both of them, just grew and grew. We tried limits, we tried all kinds of different schedules and things. They never worked. It had become a terrible issue in our marriage, and even though I have never believed in ultimatums, I was really, really close this past fall to saying something like, "Either WoW or me: choose." I wrote my husband a long letter about it one night (while he was, once again, avoiding coming to bed so he could finish his three-hour raid), and that night, after we fought again and he read my letter, he closed his account, deleted his characters, and he has not gone back. I know that was in November, sometime. I never did resort to an ultimatum, but he knew I was just a step away from it. Our lives improved immeasurably since he quit WoW. Even though we didn't make my stepson stop playing, now he hardly ever logs on, since his dad doesn't play anymore. I feel like I got my husband back.
I wish that was the end of the story -- at Christmas, we got an XBox 360 and now both boys (my husband and my stepson) are in love with this war game that drives me nuts. It is not as addictive as WoW, but I hate it when they play it and my baby girls (ages 2 and 1) are in the room. And my stepson would play for hours and hours on end if I put no limits on it.
I am still torn about how to limit it, though. My husband is no help, because he sees nothing wrong with losing oneself in such games -- so whatever limits are there are limits that I put there. Ah, the bad step-mother! How I love that role!
We don't have cable or satellite, and any *TV* we watch is from Netflix. I don't like commercials, so this works out pretty well. I used to read a lot of unschooling philosophy, some of which suggests that placing limits makes the limited item that much more desirable -- but I just don't buy it as it pertains to video games. I like what many posters here have said about that working for some personalities but not others. Some people self-regulate; some need more guidance in that area.
Once the weather improves, I fully intend to send my stepson and my daughters outside more often, which should provide a good alternative to screen time.
It's a serious issue. I have a nephew who is 19 and who has never been limited...he doesn't do anything but play games (world of warcraft), has no interest in getting a job or going to school, or moving out of his parents' house and he is surly and unsociable to everyone. That's what I was starting to see in my husband, and my stepson: when they weren't playing or couldn't play, they snapped at everyone and acted like they just wouldn't be content until they could bury themselves in the game again.
I just wanted to weigh in. My opinion: kids absolutely need limits. Husbands, too.
An hour a day is a LOT! Especially for a kid who goes to school. He should be thankful for a whole hour =)
My oldest also behaves like an electronics addict (video games or tv all day long at dad's house). I give her 15 minutes once or twice a week here. I shut off the computer when time is up.