The signs of video game addiction can be subtle or obvious—and you can see them in kids as young as two. It’s the toddler having a meltdown because he wants his iPad or mommy’s phone. It’s the 8 year old who can play games for hours straight. And it’s the teen who lets his grades slide because he can’t walk away from his XBox.
And whether or not you even agree that video game addiction is real (even the experts debate it), kids who get angry, bored, or surly when they can’t play their games is a reality. Prevent video game addiction in your kids so that they can enjoy all the rest that life has to offer.
Is your child spending too much time with his games? Is he at a loss without his XBox, iPad, or phone? Help him restore balance by setting limits—time limits, location limits, even limits by days of the week.
Take it Away.
If setting limits doesn’t work, take it away. Explain to your child that this “whatever it is” has become too important in her life. Tell her that she needs to realize that she could actually live without it if she had to. Then decide how long your child should go without it.
Give it Away.
This is a pretty drastic measure, but its power is two fold: first, it gets it away from your child, next it teaches the power of sacrifice and sharing, and finally it shows your child that you are extremely serious about setting limits.
When my son gets too attached to his iPad, I hide it. Then, he has to complete a list of chores or read, or anything else to put a bit of distance between him and his go-to item. Then, when he’s made a good separation for a while, I bring the iPad out of hiding.
Make him earn it.
Some families do a 3 for 1 exchange on video games—for every three hours you read or do something positive for your brain, you get one hour of video game time. Or you can tie their screen time to doing chores.
Talk to him about it.
When my son gets carried away with his iPad, I tell him the iPad itself isn’t bad, neither is enjoying using it. But, I talk to him about the fun and potential for fun in doing other things. And, I also want him to continue to use his imagination and ability to choose other things to do. I explain all of this to him and tell him that I love him and want what’s best for him.
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