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Little Video Game Zombies

Little Video Game Zombies

[box style=”lavender rounded” ]We get a lot of questions here at RCM, and decided to start a local advice column where our super-smart readers provide advice for the toughest parenting problems. We’ll be running these questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences, opinions, and anecdotes. As always, please do your own research before following any advice given here… or anywhere else on the web, for that matter. [/box] [sws_blockquote_endquote align=”left” cite=”” quotestyle=”style01″]I need some advice from other parents – my 7 year-old son has recently started playing video games and I’m unsure about how long to let him play. It’s all that he talks about anymore and I really want to avoid having a little gamer on my hands. I personally think that every day is too much. And what do you do when you also have to battle dads about the issue? Any suggestions or advice? – Erin in Huntsville[/sws_blockquote_endquote]

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  • Make him earn game time. For 20 minutes of game time must read for 20 minutes or do 20 minutes of math or other school work. You can also use chores. I just use math and reading because this is where my 8 year old son struggles.

  • Have you seen the new study showing active video games can help kids with dyslexia? Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a kid being a “little gamer”, but then I don’t see being a gamer as being derogatory. Games can help with concentration and hand/eye coordination. It’s like everything else. You have to put limits on it. My 2 year old plays games on my husband’s Ipad. She’s only allowed to have it during the hour between her bath and bedtime. When she first started playing with it, she wanted it everyday. Now, it’s just a few times a week. He’s probably talking about it everyday and wanting to play everyday because it’s new.

  • I’m a mother of 4 boys (3 of which are now grown men) and gaming has always been an “issue” in our house. I finally came to terms with it (it was a struggle for ME – cause it looked like such a colossal waste of time-not being a gamer myself) Breath, relax, repeat 🙂 I’ve discovered that if I don’t make a huge deal out of it, it isn’t … provide the kids with a safe environment to learn self control, time management etc tools they WILL need, once they leave the nest … “gaming” is yet another ball for the kids to learn to juggle … and provides us parents with antoher teaching moment 😀

  • I’m struggling with my 6 & 8 year-olds too.
    Right now we allow 30 minutes of game time per day if time allows after homework & after-school activities. If they “pull a card” at school or break a big house rule they lose that privilege for the day. I love Carla’s idea above about earning game time! – I might have to incorporate it to encourage positive behaviors instead of just using it to punish negative ones.

  • I have a 9- and 7-year old, and simply put, I don’t allow gaming at all. I’ve seen behavioral problems with my own children – they can’t sit still for 5 minutes. When video games are removed, there is considerable improvement (this is my own experience, and not intended to be critical of anyone else’s parenting).

    Instead, they read or play games, such as chess. yes, chess! lol The only times they’re allowed to play video games are when they are staying at someone else’s house – ie a sleepover. This is a hot topic it seems among parents, with each family having it’s own rules. As far as “battling” with the dad…that is a topic unto itself! It always helps tremendously when both parents are on board with discipline and other kid-related topics. If the dad is a gamer, I’d cite the countless research articles that discuss behavioral problems with children that play a lot of video games.

    Having said all that, I use our XBox more than anyone in the house! Those lego games are right up my alley! 🙂

  • I worried about it too when Coop was that age, but it seems to be a stage. Coop will go through big gaming phases and then he will move onto something else–such as basketball, which he is playing right now. I think as long as grades are good and he is getting plenty of exercise then you are golden. 😀

  • I homeschool my 3 kids. So, they had got to point where they thought when school was done for day it was game on. It got so out of order that I sent the controls to work with their daddy because he has locker to put them in. They only get controls back occasionally ,now . For instance, if I have to work on something and they have finished work they can play. If have a safe locking them up is a good idea, too. Except for fact they ask for it so sending it off was the best way. My oldest has to read a book and do a report to get his privaleges following his school work. Now, they rarely ask. They have been playing board games or doing their on make believe play things. Such as today, they made the living room a store and you payed money for your items. Main thing is be firm and don’t give in. It benefits them and makes them respectful of you. They will thank you in long run. I love video games, too. There is a time and place for it. It should be a reward , but not something they expect every time . With that being said, make other interesting rewards and eventually games will not matter as much.

  • We only let the kids play on the weekends. We tried to let them play during the week but it turned them into absolute nut jobs. So, WEEKENDS ONLY for us.

  • Why would your kid being a gamer be such a horrible thing? There are tons of educational games out there – the obvious ones include reading and math, but games also help with spacial reasoning, memory, map-reading, etc. And yes, a game may be all your 7-year-old wants to talk about – that’s what 7-year-olds do. If it weren’t games it would be dinosaurs, or baseball, or Spiderman, or horses. It’s the way kids that age are wired – it has nothing to do with the game!

    My husband and I are both gamers, and we’re happy that our 4-year-old daughter seems to be interested in games as well. Her games follow her interests: when she was in her dinosaur phase she wanted to play dinosaur games, when she was in her “I love babies” phase she wanted to play games where you can build houses and move around a virtual family. Right now she’s enthusiastic about Minecraft, because she can build crazy houses and landscapes and decorate however she likes. Incidentally, she can now add double-digit numbers because she’s learned how to add stacks of items in the inventory screen (and it tells you how many are in each stack).

    That’s not to say there aren’t bad games out there – any parent should keep an eye on what experiences their child is consuming and should step in if those experiences are teaching them the wrong lessons (e.g. the Grand Theft Auto games). I’d also expect a good parent to realize when their child needs to be dragged away from their favorite activity for a while (whatever that activity might be) – but please don’t mistake “games” for “addiction,” and don’t lump all videogames in together!

  • What’s so bad about having a little gamer? We are a proud Geek Family. My daughter has been playing video games with her dad since she was 3. I credit those games with helping her learn to read — at the age of 3. Help him choose the right video games and they will be a positive influence. Many games not only require children to hone their reading skills, but also require problem solving. The Lego game franchise is great! My daughter solves complicated puzzles before my husband can figure them out. Minecraft is another good game. It’s creativity gone wild! You can get rid of the creepers and let your little architect go crazy. My daughter has created castles, pyramids and even her grandmother’s house — not to mention domesticated several animals, and learned the concept of finite resources.

    As much as I think video games can be a good thing, there is such thing as too much! You are the mom. You decide how much and how often he plays. My daughter is almost 10 now. She gets about an hour of screen time a day – that can be any combination of television and games. And that is only if she’s done with homework and caught up on her chores. Games make excellent “kid currency”. I’ve found the threat of taking away her video games works wonders when she is less than cooperative. On the weekends she gets more screen time – it’s a daddy-daughter activity that they both enjoy. And it gives me a chance to spend time reading or watching shows that they just don’t get.

    That reminds me, it’s almost birthday time. I get my daughter a “girl gamer” shirt for her birthday every year.

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