My name is Crissi, and I am the mother of a video game junkie.
It’s true. During the school year I limit it to weekends only. The weekend started on Fridays after we got home from school and work, and ended at 9 pm on Sundays. I always swore I’d give him time limits, but I admit it, I never did. He would wake up at 8 am on the dot to start playing. I would not let him play any earlier in favor of my sleep. If I didn’t limit that, without exaggeration he’d be up at 5 am to start playing. And if I let him, he would happily play all day long, pausing only long enough to take a bathroom break or eat. I would even have to remind my usually healthy eater that he needed to stop and eat something, usually when he’d be reduced to tears over a hard part in the game because his blood sugar was getting low.
Take the video games away from him, and I would suddenly be around the Tasmanian Devil! He became a boy going through serious withdrawal. The first day is always the hardest. His anger is through the roof, and he’ll go through bouts of yelling and crying, and then yelling some more. After that it gets a little easier, but he counts down the days till he can have the games back. I can take away any of his toys and his reaction doesn’t even touch the video game reaction. Even his skateboards, his second most prized possession, only produce a few tears. But the video games, that is the magic item that cuts him straight to the core. I will say, though, that it takes the guesswork out of discipline. The video games are always the very first to go. And if I have to take away several items, he has to earn everything else back before getting the video games back.
Now that it is summertime, the whole week is like the weekend. I’m not putting a whole lot of restraints on it. We are gone during the day, so he doesn’t play all day long. He wakes up in the morning and quickly makes his breakfast and lunch, and then gets ready for day camp. And when he’s all done getting ready, he plays video games for an hour before we leave. I never have to wait on him in the morning because he is the first one in the household to be ready to leave. When we get back, he’s back on the video games. And on the weekends, he has more time to play. I have noticed, though, that since his allotted playing time has increased, he is more apt to put the video games down and play outside with his friends or even just sit and read a book. And if I tell him to turn it off, he is more willing to do so since he knows that he can play again soon.
Any other parents have a video game junkie for a kid? How do you handle it? What kind of limits do you place on their playing?