Kids & Technology

How to Prevent Video Game Addiction

video game addiction

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.

Set Limits.

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.

Hide It.

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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In The Comments

How do you set limits on video games and technology?

By: Nancy Jergins

iMOM Contributor

Nancy Jergins has written about relationship and family issues for more than 15 years, and does her best to enlighten and encourage others with her words.

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  • Sheriff

    This is SUCH an issue for my boys, grown adult son, and even my husband. For the minors, I make the no video games (IPod, game boy, iMac, iPhone. Etc) during the week while the school year is in. Weekends there is video game time, but even then the time consumed playing games was too much. They (the boys14, 16) were good about doing chores first prior to playing and knocking out their first things first (must wash up, eat breakfast, get dress, household cleaning chores) however I still found that in the weekend it still was hours upon hours ( even after church) of playing Xbox, etc. sure it made leaving them home while I did my typical errands easier, but they rarely went outside. Only when forced to ride their bikes or kicked out doors, would they see the sun. I remember growing up where from the crack of dawn till the street lights came on, I played out doors. I’m afraid of the addiction I see in the boys because I see it in my adult son and in my husband. I will call it in addiction because in the men of our household, I see how the time consumed with gaming has made them neglect so many areas of their lives. It has also lead to so many other addictions such as online gambling, card games (magic), college drop out due to bad grades, etc, that is destroying their lives, our marriage and male leadership model in our home. I don’t take the video games away but I fight the boys on the addiction daily. The men, I pray that God will open their eyes and my adult daughter and I handle all the responsibilities of the home.

  • Sarah Albers

    I have done all of these thing. My 13 year old son is so sneeky about it. If i take the xbox away i have to take it to work or he will find it and play on it while im at work. Or he will just sit and play on the computer all day. Then ill take that away and he will play on his phone all day. When he has nothing else he will go outside and hang out with friends. But as soon as i any of these things back, he is right back into his gaming, all day while im at work. How do i teach him the self control to stop after 2 hours while im at work all day?

  • Ashley

    We try to lead by example. We all play sports and instruments together. It’s fun and it’s mandatory without being harsh.

  • Sheena

    @ Sarah Albers — Is your son getting his expectations/responsibilities done during the day? Showering, eating, picking up after himself, laundry, walking the dog, taking out the trash, making his bed, cleaning a bathroom, etc? If he is able to play his game(s) & complete his tasks — I personally say let it be. It is summer time and a break from our normal routines. There could be bigger problems/worries to worry about. Now, if on the other hand if he isn’t completing his responsibilities — there will need to be checks/balances. Taking all 3 devices to work with you would stop him from playing. But then there is the creation of a bored teen with nothing better to do — would he find something not so appropriate to be doing? Changing the WiFi password; daily could stop him from connecting to the internet; but some games don’t need the internet. That’s a tough one and one that might require talking to him and praying about.

  • Krystal

    What happens when the childs father is also addicted to gaming and refuses to set a better example?

  • Believer

    I have the same issue, Krystal. Hubby spends the entire day Saturday playing on the computer, only stopping for meals and any kid sports game. Same thing after work. He says it’s his privilege for being the breadwinner.