Part of our job as parents is to help our gamers find balance in their lives. Yes, there are benefits to playing video games. However, as with most things in life, those benefits can be lost without moderation. Setting limits can help your gamer enjoy his/her games without missing out on other aspects of life.
There are 6 things to consider when you are thinking about what limits to set.
- Let it be a discussion between you and your gamer, especially if he/she is a teenager. It will help them have ownership over the schedule when they actively participated in setting it up.
- Keep your gamer’s schedule in mind. You do not want to schedule 3 hours of play on Wednesday when the family does not get home until 8 because of previous commitments.
- Keep your gamer’s gaming in mind. Certain types of games are going to be more conducive to certain schedules. For example, a raid in World of Warcraft can take several hours a couple nights a week. Allowing 1 hour every night will not work.
- Keep your gamer’s friends in mind. If your child has friends that play, it might be better to schedule a longer session once a week where they can play together.
- Set the times, not just the amount. It is much easier to enforce an 8 to 9 schedule than an arbitrary 1 hour a night.
- Honor the time you said you will give them. If Monday from 7:30 to 10 is gaming night, let them play. Obviously things come up that cannot be avoided. But you will have a stronger foundation for the limits you set when you honor your commitment.
With those 6 things in mind, here are 4 schedules to consider (all with the overarching understanding of after homework and chores).
- 1 hour a night (8-9, 8:30-9:30, etc.). Works well if your child is into sports, racing or any other games where short bursts are good.
- 2-3 hours twice a week. Again, this works well for World of Warcraft or other MMOs but can also work with story based games. Also, it can be good if your gamer is especially busy on one or more nights during the week.
- 1 night a week from dinner to bed time. Works well if your child has friends who play.
- None during the week, only on weekends. Probably best if your child is especially busy during the week. This will help ensure homework gets done. Just make sure to give them a large block of time on the weekend.