The Family Gaming Debate: Should You Restrict Kids Access to Gaming?

Now I don’t have any problems with my children playing video games and I am a gamer myself. I believe they are a form of entertainment and I don’t believe they have many negative effects beyond that of any other entertainment. But as with everything, moderation is best and over use can lead to problems.

Excessive Gaming Issues

I have noticed that at times my son can become aggressive when gaming. To counter this we have recommended that he go and do something else for a while. It could be assumed that this behavior is tied to the games, however this is more the catalyst rather than the problem. Usually when he is ‘losing control’ it is due to sleep deprivation and caused by him not going to bed. Recently he, at times, has been staying up late playing, and this has resulted in his sleeping patterns being disrupted. As he is playing games online, and with players all over the world, there is no down time and he can find a game to play at anytime, and this is the main problem.

Restricting Access

In order to assist him in maintaining a healthy playing structure, we decided to limit the consoles access. At the start we set times for two breaks, one at midday and the other at six, both of these. We picked these times so he stopped at meal times. We also set it to clock off a ten, and return at seven the next morning. This worked well for a few weeks. After a while he asked for the daytime’s to be switched off as it was interrupting his play with friends. The fact that he asked, rather than moaned, and ha proper arguments we agreed and removed the block for the day, and we let the night one out to eleven, which was the time that his friends seemed to leave as well.

Is it the Real Solution?

Turning off the console can create new issues as, you are doing two very different things. The first is removing a form of entertainment and the second is you are restricting communication with friends. So when you are taking away the gaming console, you are also saying that they can’t play with their friends. The gaming console has become a personal safe place for them to hangout. It’s the mall of the current generation.

A Better Way?

Recently I have become more mindful that when he is ‘playing’ he is actually interacting with friends. When I want to talk with him, I ask him to turn off the mic, so I don’t embarrass him in front of his friends. I needed to realise that this is his place and I am an outsider. Our communication became better when I learned what he thought of as acceptable. For example, he is fine being called to dinner and other general family business, but talking about anything personal needs to be approached more carefully.

I guess it is about respect and privacy. Sometimes he is okay with me watching and talking about the game and other times he is not. I need to read each situation and act accordingly. If I get a bit of a stare-down I know that he wants to be left alone. Obviously I can choose to do so or not, but if I don’t need to tell him something then usually I leave him be and if not we have worked out signals so he can ‘opt out’ of the game for a second so his mates don’t hear what I am saying.

Learning to Deal with New Tech

Sometimes I feel that these are issues that my own parents did not have to deal with. But of course they had, it was just slightly different. Even though the console still turns off at eleven, and he usually goes to bed at a reasonable hour, I feel that he was right and the day times were a bit excessive.

If you’re having problems with excessive use perhaps try limiting the console’s access to the internet, but as with everything a discussion that involves all parties can result in a smoother transition.

What are your thoughts on restricting kids access to gaming? Feel free to comment below.

Feature Image: xbox controller. by Adam.James (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)