Kids love video games. Heck, adults love video games. Most people under the age of 40 realize that video games are no longer some novelty. They can range from addictive time killers to well developed stories that can challenge some of the best modern literature. Trying to keep kids away from video games can be a futile effort. The key is to set a few ground rules than can keep video games fun without allowing them to overwhelm your life. Following these three tips can help you to let your kids have fun while keeping things balanced.
1) Be the adult. This is true of everything parenting but is especially important when it comes to video games. It is ok to set the rules. But you have to be the adult and make sure your children are following them. The will beg to finish the level, they will beg for five more minutes, they will beg for you to play with them, at some point you have to be willing to be the mean guy and tell them enough is enough. This is much easier if you communicate with them. Give them warnings. Let them know they only have 10 minutes left, then five. Make it clear to them to take care of their business cause once time is up it is up. And then you must enforce this rule. They will fight you. They will cry, beg, and complain at first: but stick to your guns. Very soon they will learn to respect the boundaries and they will stop arguing with you.
2) Be clear what is appropriate. There are a lot of games out there. They can be tons of fun. But a lot of games aren’t right for younger kids. As a parent you have to be proactive and make sure that you know what your kids are playing and that it is ok for their age. This might take a little effort. Do NOT take their word for it. Put a little effort into it. Research the games they like, ask around, find out if it is ok or not. And then you must do a little soul searching and decide what is ok and what isn’t. Don’t let the kids make the rules. You must establish what is ok and what isn’t.
3) Play with them! If you want to know what your kids are up too then the best way is to have a little fun and play with them. Telling them something is not ok is one thing, playing with them for a few minutes then telling them something is not ok makes a huge difference. They will respect your opinion a lot more if they know you actually checked out what they like and then decided, instead of just making a decision without knowing what your talking about. Plus, you can have a little fun with your kids. While no one’s childhood should be dominated by video games they can still be a part of it. One of my favorite memories is staying up late playing Super Mario Bros with my Dad. Give this memory to your kids. Let them know you value what they like. Even if it isn’t your thing.
Kids are a tough crowd. They know what they like and they think you have know clue. Like anything, if you want them to respect your decisions regarding video games then you have to earn it. Kids can tell that you took the time to respect what they like and they will cooperate a lot more if you show them that even though they may not like your decision you put in some effort and thought of them before you made it. Taking a few small steps to ensure that your children understand the ground rules of video games can pay off exponentially in the end. Let them know you respect their feelings, but at the end of the day you make the rules and enforce them consistently.