Last Updated on September 2, 2021.
It’s no secret how addicting video games can be. They keep kids entertained for hours and are a great way to teach them how to problem-solve, strategize, and collaborate with others. But how do you get your child to stop playing video games? In this blog post, we offer five easy steps that will help your child put down the controller and get back outside!
Why is your child addicted to video games?
Video games affect your child’s brain by releasing dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s released when we experience something pleasurable, like eating chocolate or playing video games. The more your child plays, the less dopamine their brain releases in response to natural rewards and this leads them to need even more of it from virtual sources (video games).
This can lead children to become addicted to video games, which can lead to health and social problems such as weight gain or difficulties in school.
Why is it bad for them?
Excessive time playing video games can hamper how well your child does in school or how they function at home.
A 2010 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that kids who play video games for three hours a day, on average, are 27% more likely to be obese than those who don’t–and their risk increases with each additional hour played!
Kids may also have trouble making friends and may become socially isolated.
What not to do
Don’t take away video games cold turkey. The likely result will be your child not wanting anything to do with you.
5 Steps to Curb the Video Game Addiction
1. Keep a log of video game usage.
Your child probably has no idea how much time they are spending playing video games. The first step is to keep track. Create a log so you have hard evidence of excessive videogame use.
2. Show them the data
Talk to your child about their videogame habit. Before you reveal the numbers, have them estimate how much time they think they spend playing games. Hopefully, they’ll be shocked by the number and it might prompt them to change their habis.
3. Discuss and compromise on a healthy limit
Show them the research on healthy video game habits. Talk about what a reasonable amount of time might be. Together come to an agreement on what their video game limit should be.
4. Set up an accountability system and consequences
How will your child remain accountable? What are the consequences of going over the agreed limit? Use a timer, an accountability calendar, or any other tool that will help your child stay accountable.
5. Create Distractions
Give your child plenty of other ideas on what to do! If you keep your kids busy with other fun activities, they might not even notice their reduced video game usage. Try:
- Creating a list of non-digital activities they enjoy
- Start a new hobby
- Start a long-term project
- Practice goal setting
Tips for Success
- Engage before they disengage. When it’s time to put down the video game, join them for a round (or just watch).
- Arrange outdoor or off-site playdates with kids.
- Recognize kids for trying to reduce their video game usage.
- Have family meals together.
The Bottom Line
It’s a good idea to limit video games for your child’s well-being. If you’re wondering how to get your child to stop playing video games, it starts with understanding how much they are playing. Include your child in the decision to limit how often they play video games and how much time is spent playing. Use our 5 easy steps to help them limited their video games for good.