As a parent, it’s probably very frustrating to walk in on your child hunched-over and glued to the TV all the time, gaming pad in hand, headphones plugged in, unaware of the environment for hours unending. Then imagine getting that child to concentrate on studying or doing assignments when he or she would rather be gaming — tug of war. In this article, we’ll be sharing tips on how to stop your child’s video game addiction.
First, you should understand that playing video games is not bad. In fact, playing video games have many cognitive benefits such as; expanding the imagination, improving problem-solving skills and boosting brain speed. But as you know, too much of everything is not good. So, when your child’s video game habit starts interfering with assignments, household chores or sleep time, then you need to take action.
How to Stop Video Game Addiction
1. Restrict Access
Many people will advise against cutting your child off from video games completely because of the belief that deprivation will only increase their craving. However, if the situation is critical, then extreme measures need to be considered.
Regardless, restricting access to gaming consoles or devices does not have to be infinite. You can decide to keep them hidden for a while or send them off to a relative’s house till your child has proved he deserves to have the games returned.
2. Establish house rules to control screen time
Moderation is essential if you want to keep your child’s video game addiction in check. The goal of establishing house rules or policies is to have some level of quality control in the home, in order to uphold certain standards within the household. Monitoring daily screen time and reducing the number of time kids spend playing games can help them gradually cut back their urge to play. When there is control, kids eventually learn how to manage their game time.
For each rule, create a consequence and make sure your child abides by it. Let’s say you decide to allocate one hour before dinner on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays as game time. You can then create a consequence that states “anyone who is caught playing games outside the allocated game time will forfeit their next two game days”. That is, if your child is caught video gaming when he’s not supposed to, you’ll take away his game time for the next two days as allocated. This will make your child less likely to break the rules. You may create consequences as you deem fit, but don’t forget to stay within reasonable limits.
3. Create a routine and track it with a calendar
If you need a more lenient approach on how to stop video game addiction, try getting your child busy doing other activities. Make sure the activities you choose are interesting or engaging. For example, you can create a weekly calendar of activities at different time slots including things like; going outside to ride bikes, solving jigsaw puzzles, local excursions, doing the dishes, or reading aloud to you (after all you’re always the one reading to them). The list is endless. Prove to them that there are a lot more exciting things to do besides playing video games.
Developing a routine by creating a calendar of activities will help take your child’s mind off gaming and also help build a healthier habit.
4. Keep gaming devices away from the bedroom or study area
Out of sight is out of mind, and the less they see it, the less likely they are to be tempted to play it. You can’t be talking about how to stop video game addiction if the games are placed in places where your child spends the most time. Try moving gaming consoles and devices to a central location, preferably a part of the house that’s open. If your child knows he/she shouldn’t be playing video games at a certain time, the last place he/she will want is to sneak in for a game where he/she can be spotted. This will also help your child sleep better at night and stay focused during study time.
5. Treat gaming as a reward
It’s better for your child to see playing video games as a privilege rather than an entitlement. That way he won’t start sulking or throwing tantrums when you deny him the luxury.
Make it clear that doing certain chores or assignments is a way to earn points towards playing video games. So you can decide that each time your son cleans his bathroom, or your daughter does the laundry, they each get a certain amount of points. Ensure they are made aware of the number of points required to earn some video game time.
6. Consider cognitive behavioural therapy
According to WHO, playing video games compulsively is a mental health condition. So, taking your child through a behavioural modification therapy might be your last resort for stopping video game addiction if nothing else works. If you’re not sure where to find help, reach out to the admin at your child’s school and ask to see a counsellor.
Stopping your child’s video game addiction takes a lot of work. You’ll need to exercise patience and be understanding if you want to be triumphant. The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone. Get your spouse or trusted friend/family member involved. Speaking with a counsellor at your child’s school can also help you learn how to stop video game addiction in no time.