Parenting: Video game guidelines

Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Parenting: Video game guidelines

My son would play videogames all day long if he could. Like many 8-year-old boys, the portable Nintendo DS always seems to be within arm's reach. And don't ask me how many games he has for the device - I've lost count, which he means he probably has too many.

Certainly, it would be nice if he could reach for a book as quickly or as easily as he reaches for his Nintendo... but we've found a way to use his videogame playing as currency, or better yet as a bargaining chip to make sure he prioritizes his time.

We've set video game guidelines for Nicholas, and made it clear to him what we expect. For instance, homework and reading must come before videogames. And when he does play, it's only for a certain amount of time.

The guidelines have proven to be a great motivator, although it still requires my wife and I to be vigilant, and make sure Nicholas hasn't sped through his homework or reading to get to the videogames. And if his grades drop, he knows his videogame playing will be eliminated all together until there's an improvement.

A website called, also lists various guidelines that parents can consider regarding videogame use. Here are a few:

    1. Carefully consider how much time your child should sit in front of the television or videogame console. Many experts suggest two hours a day as a reasonable limit.

    2. Parents should set clear guidelines with the child to avoid confusion and arguments later. It may also help improve communication.

    3. Also parents need to stay on top of which current videogames are appropriate or inappropriate for your child, even it if it means playing the games with your son or daughter.

Certainly, video gaming it is not all bad for a child. It does require them to think, memorize, imagine strategize and be creative. It can also help develop some and eye coordination. But videogames can become an unhealthy obsession for children, if parents aren't vigilant.

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