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Setting limits on video games
December 1, 2013, 12:59 pm

Children often have a very hard time stopping once they get stuck in positive feedback loops such as the reward cycles created by video games. Below are a few suggestions on how to get children to break off this video gaming habit.

Start off slowly:  Start by setting a rule of limiting video games to one hour per day. And while it can be tempting to dramatically cut back your child’s access to games, or want to remove them from your home altogether, it might be more helpful to start off slowly. Let your child know you are starting to question whether video games have a place in your home because they seem to cause a lot of problems. Try the new rule first — and based on their ability to follow that rule you should determine if the games stay.

Be specific: Let your child know what guidelines you are going to be using to determine if video games are working out or not. Ask questions to assess a new limit in your home and go over these questions and answers with your child.

Problem solve: Work together with your child to find a new technique that can be used to try to shut down the video games in a much more timely fashion. For example, maybe you discuss the idea of your child avoiding certain more engaging games at certain times, or set up a reward system for turning the game off when a timer goes off. Also consider how your child can cope with the unpleasant feelings caused by stopping the game, or discuss what other fun activities can be done if they are bored. Talk these things over with your child to help them understand.

Be empowered: Most of these video games companies have websites with instructions for setting up parental controls.  Xbox is equipped with a family timer, so you can program the console to shut itself off after the allotted gaming time has been used up for the day. You can even find links to some websites for more information about parental controls. If you find the instructions on the web hard to understand, call the company’s customer support phone number for more assistance.

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