Balancing video games and real life should be an easy feat…but it isn’t. Our kids want to play on some form of electronic device 24/7. Therefore, we’ve had to put some very clear and specific limits on video games (and general electronics for that matter) in our home.
Our newest limit states, “No video game play during the week.”
And that means on phones, too.
In the short time we’ve been implementing this limit in our home, there have been such positive differences. So, I wanted to break down four of these positive changes in an effort to encourage you to consider putting limits on the time your kids spend playing video games, too.
Why My Kids Don’t Play Video Games During the Week
1. They are learning moderation and priorities.
We are all guilty of going overboard with certain things. It’s just so easy to get caught up in something we enjoy! Whether it’s our favorite food, social media, or Netflix, we often find ourselves overindulging.
We are adults, who are supposed to have a handle on moderation, and yet we find ourselves struggling.
Now imagine this.
You’re a preteen or teenager with access to anything (and everything) on the World Wide Web. You are “supposed” to be able to filter out the bad and somehow find enough self-control to stop doing something that you really enjoy.
It ain’t gonna happen!
Just like everything else in life, we have to teach our children through modeling moderation.
This also means that we have to help them understand how to set priorities as well as personal goals. Only then will they understand the value of planning ahead.
During the week, our main priority is school.
After completing their school work, they have specific chores around our home, as well as ball practice, piano lessons, and church activities. Of course, we let them watch some tv and do lots of other things…except video games.
2. They are learning how to become part of the “REAL” world.
There are so many skills that our kids are missing simply because they’re so engrossed in the content on their phone, Xbox, or PS4.
When my boys were playing video games during the week, they would rush through their schoolwork and ask me the same questions no less than 42 times a day, “When I finish my work, can I play the Xbox? How much time can we have today? Can we have extra time, please?”
They were completely obsessed.
Video game play dominated every aspect of their lives! They couldn’t have a conversation about anything other than the newest video game, how they won their latest battle, and what they were going to do the next time they played.
My husband and I quickly realized that they were living in a completely different world, and we decided to make some changes that included balancing video games and real life.
Now, we have real conversations about life, our family, and the future.
Yes, they still play video games on the weekend with their friends and cousins. And, sure, they still like to talk about the battle they won or the fact that they overcame a challenge.
But the difference is they are learning moderation and how to enjoy video games without them dominating every aspect of their lives.
3. They are learning how to be bored, creative, and active!
Boredom gives kids the opportunity to get creative and find something PRODUCTIVE to do.
You see, kids are naturally wired to be active and learn. In fact, their brains are like little sponges.
By giving them the freedom to choose what activity they want to pursue, they can apply the things that they’ve learned and even discover new interests.
Now, it’s no secret that we LOVE board games in our home! We have such a wide variety of them. And since balancing video games and real life has become a strong focus in our home, our boys have started playing board games daily.
I love that they are learning how to disagree and negotiate terms between themselves in a positive way. My youngest son prefers to play board games while my oldest wants to be outside hitting Wiffle balls.
So, they’ve worked out a system through trial and error (aka arguing and heated debate) that has allowed them to do both.
- They know they’ll have ample time for play, but they simply have to determine what activities they want to pursue.
- They’ve resorted to using timers to guarantee they each get an equal amount of time to complete their chosen activities.
- They spend an allotted amount of time doing the activity of my oldest son’s choosing and then they switch so my youngest son gets to dictate the activity.
Almost without question, this involves running, throwing and catching baseballs, shooting each other with Nerf guns, or playing golf in the front yard.
They are finding ways to expend the extra energy they have as well as learning how to enjoy an active lifestyle.
4. They are learning how to regulate their own behavior and develop greater empathy.
Since implementing a more proactive approach to balancing video games and real life, my boys have become much more successful in keeping their emotions in check.
What I mean is that the constant arguing, disobedience, and physical aggression have been reduced dramatically. I’m very blessed that neither of my boys has ever felt the need to become very physically aggressive with the other.
Yes, there has been some pushing, shoving, and occasional smacking, but they’ve never been involved in a “knock down, drag out.”
However, daily video game play actually tended to make them more aggressive both physically and verbally.
- They were arguing more and saying disrespectful things to each other during their game time.
- They were becoming disobedient when it came time for them to end their game play by simply ignoring me or continuing to play.
- They would constantly ask for more time and then when they were told no, they would roughly put away their controllers and games.
I found an interesting article on the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) website that showed a definitive link between virtual violence and issues in children. You can read the whole article by clicking here!
There is no question about IF games affect our kids, it’s HOW MUCH these games affect our children.
While we’re extremely particular about the types of video games our boys play, even the virtual violence from something like Star Wars or Fortnite was too much every single day.
Balancing Video Games and Real Life
As the boys have been learning about balancing video games and real life, their aggressive behavior has diminished. They’ve become much more empathetic to one another.
Do they still fight? YES!
Do they argue? Absolutely.
Have their behaviors changed for the better? Definitely!
When it comes to your kids, you know them best!
However, whenever I find something that works for our family, I want to share it. If this post encourages you to consider taking a different approach to the amount of tech and virtual reality your kids consume, then it’s worth it.
Remember we only get one chance at this amazing life. We want to make sure that we’re equipping our children with the tools they need to self-regulate…especially when it comes to balancing video games and real life.