One of the largest fights I have with my seven year old daughter (7 going on 17!) is about video games. Basically she wants to play her video games all. the. time. for. ever. and I don’t want her to. I want her to go outside, and have fun – read a book, play with her Legos – basically enjoy her childhood. I feel at times that she’s addicted to video games. I eventually give in, of course, and allow her to play. If it was only playing, that would be fine, but now there’s also whining involved. How often can she play? How long can she play for? When can she start? Why does she have to finish now? She can’t finish now because she has to go to a save point… ten minutes later the bloody game is still on – it drives me absolutely insane. I feel like she is addicted to video games.
I used to try and regulate the duration of ‘playing time’, making it one hour long, but this quickly got canned as I NEVER monitored the time properly – and even when I did there were excuses about finishing levels and getting to checkpoints (all valid excuses, but still!). We used “games” (meaning her DS, our phones or iPads, the Wii…) as a means for good behaviour – meaning we would take away games if she misbehaved and give her more game time if she had proved herself to be ‘good’, but I’m not sure the lesson was learnt and really it gave me headaches for days – all the moaning and crying and whining… ugh.
The problem I have with regulating these video games is that I feel like a hypocrite for not allowing my daughter to play them. I LOVE VIDEO GAMES. There, I said it. Whenever we got a new game for the Wii, I would play it after everyone was asleep. And beat it. (How else would I know how to play them with my kid?) I have my own games on my iPad that my daughter is NOT ALLOWED to play. Not my daughter – not anyone. I laugh at the childishness of this, but really, it’s MY GAME.
So how am I supposed to suppress the wants of a 7 year old girl when I have the same inexplicable need to immerse myself into a game for hours at a time. The problem is that I don’t have the time – perhaps it’s jealousy?
The true problem lies in this: when my daughter plays video games for too long (and on any given day this is a different length of time), she turns into an emotional mess. She loses her patience quickly with us, with her brother, even with her game. She gets frustrated easily, and if ‘something bad happens’ she will absolutely lose her cool – no matter where she is – and nobody can help her.
This leads to more fighting, more crying and moaning – about how she’ll be good! can she please play more?
Parenting is hard. Video games make it harder. And since I know the fun that lies in these games, I don’t want to outlaw them completely.
New rule: NO video games on school days.
This is actually working out pretty well for us, since on weekends we’re usually busy doing other things and she seems to forget about her gaming addiction for many hours at a time. I, in turn, try to relax and not be so controlling, sort of turning the other cheek and letting my daughter play her games.
I’m hoping with this rule we can achieve the balance of enjoying ‘gaming’ while still living life to the fullest.
How do you keep your kids gaming in check?