Monday, August 20, 2012

How Much Time Do Your Kids Spend Playing Video Games?

Last week, as part of an article I’m working on for a parenting website, I asked the friends and family on my social media sites whether they limited their kids’ video game time. Given the huge controversy surrounding video games these days, I wasn’t at all surprised to see responses ranging from “My kids aren’t allowed to play video games at all” to “They can play as long as they want as long they’re still speaking proper English”.

What did surprise me was how many parents were eager to set their OWN limits instead of quoting the American Academy of Pediatrics and calling it a day.

With a child with ADHD, video games are a hot topic at my house. I can tell when Mr. A’s been spending too much time glued to the computer. Not only does he start bouncing off the walls, his social manner begins to be…well…shall we say lacking in manners?

On school days, I usually cut the kids an hour or two of electronics time. That translates to a TV show or two before bed. Weekends and vacations, they get on the television and computer pretty much as soon as they get up. I let them hang out until 10 or 11, then kick them off until bedtime. At which point I usually allow another hour or so before I send them to bed.

Occasionally I’ll let them stay up watching television until all hours of the night. Well, okay, midnight, which is the point at which they go to bed or my head goes “POP”.

Work days during vacations are always a little tricky. I’ve discovered that the pool about an hour and a half down the road has a perfect pre-made work space; the tables are set high enough above the pool that I can see what’s going on without having to worry about my laptop getting soaked. Since I now have three-count them, three-kids that can swim comfortably without the aid of a flotation device, that makes a good way to keep them occupied for 3-4 hours while I blog/research/work on the day’s articles/whatever. Well worth the drive.

Winter time, however, I have been known to lift video and television restrictions completely if it will keep them occupied and out of trouble for 4-6 hours. Same with sick days-mine or theirs. (My kids LOVE mom’s sick days, let me tell you what.) Since that usually ends with the kids bouncing off the walls by bedtime, I try not to let that one happen too often.

I’ve heard a number of people tell me that their kids will, if given the choice, self-police themselves when it comes to video games. Two thumbs way up to those kids, let me tell you what. My kids aren’t there yet.

What are the video game rules in your house?  

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