Video games are an inescapable part of my life. All my children are gamers. My youngest aspires to design video game characters, and as much as I resisted them in the beginning, I learned to embrace them as a part of our lives and use them as a learning tool. For this topic, I ask you to keep your mind and heart open. I get that parents have a love-hate relationship with video games. I understand the need to limit kids’ screen time. My kids started playing Game Boys over a decade ago. It was amazing how focused they were on that tiny screen when they couldn’t focus long enough to put their coats and backpacks away when they got home from school. I admit I hated them because they competed for my children’s attention.
I wish I could tell you I handled this issue well from the beginning, but I didn’t. We had the typical struggles and arguments. I badgered. They whined. I threatened. They resisted. It was not pretty, and we made no progress, so something had to change. I am sad to admit it took me a while, but I figured out what had to change was me.
Now before you get angry and say my kids needed to listen or change, understand I agree with you. The thing is that we were doing the same thing and getting the same result repeatedly. In video game terms, we stayed on level one. No one progressed. I could have said I was the Boss, and they had to do what I said, but that creates drama and resentment, and that’s not the kind of home environment I wanted. Instead, I wanted to create a home environment of peace and fun and yelling at my kids wasn’t going to do that.
Our screen time limit to create a peaceful family
What we did may sound extreme to some people, but it worked for us. To limit our kids’ screen time, we cut out video games completely during the week except in special circumstances. Were the kids angry at the beginning? Of course, but each week it got easier and my kids developed other interests. One learned about sports. Two joined Lego league teams. Two developed interests in music, but they all continued to play video games on the weekend.
The benefit for us to limit our kids’ screen time
Speaking of weekends, I have all boys, but I knew they aspired to be husbands someday, so I required they help take care of our home. Each weekend I made a list of “house blessings”. The list was long enough for each child picked three items, and the child that got to the list first got first choice of tasks. My husband and I did the items the children left on the list so everyone pitched in and the house looked great, and no one worked more than 30 minutes. Then, the kids were free to play games in the house and in the car for the rest of the weekend. Don’t think you can get your home looking great in 30 minutes or less? Check out my post The Magic of Fifteen Minutes.
Additional benefits of limiting screen time
Now that my children are all adults, I see the results of that practice. My oldest, who is married, shares household duties with his full time working wife. My middle, who is in college, makes his bed every day at school and does most of the dishes in his rental house. He makes his bed because he says that no matter how bad the day has been, he knows he accomplished something. He cleans the kitchen because he likes to cook in a clean environment. The youngest, who graduates high school this year, is still learning, and that’s ok because his brothers’ training took over in college, so I have great hopes. Are they perfect? Of course not, but my husband and I always wanted to raise young men that would be a blessing to a marriage, and I think we’re well on our way.
Even more benefits to screen time limits
Another benefit our weekend practice was teaching our kids about delayed gratification. They learned to do the work around the house first and then they got to play. That concept helped them in sports, in learning financial literacy and in their school work. They learned to put in the work first to get the reward, and it has served them well.
Your best path to peace and to limit kids’ screen time
So, if you’re fighting the video game wars with your kids, I know you can find a way to limit your kid’s screen time to create family peace. If my solution doesn’t work, use it as a template and adjust. If you understand video games, you know that while the goal is to get to the next level, players often get there in different ways. Sometimes the best part is figuring out a way to do something differently than anyone has ever done it before. Sometimes it’s best to find out what other players do and emulate them. Whichever path you choose, I would love to hear about your results so sent me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how it goes. Remember to live your best life and let the rest go!Click here for ways to support the Moving Toward Better mission.