I have had a long standing love hate relationship with video games. Over the years they have been an unbelievable free sitter when I needed a break. Also? A horrible distraction from all things in the boys’ lives. Homework. Chores. Family time. Eating. There was a time when I was pretty convinced my oldest son would have peed in a cup rather than take a break and head to the bathroom.
Thankfully he has come around and is now WAY more addicted to Facebook. Which is awesome because I am always looking for new content. Next week? Facebook: Is your child addicted? And you girl moms won’t get off so easy on that one.
About three years ago I went down to check on Colt at about two o’clock in the morning and I noticed a strange glow coming from the playroom. I tiptoed down the hall, quietly slid the door open and found Keenan a foot away from the television, under a blanket jerking spastically with every kill shot from his controller. Picture a tent of light surrounding my then, 14 year old and screamed whispers of, “shoot him, shoot him, on the left,” coming from inside.
I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work. Calmly, I walked over to the wall socket and pulled the plug. The blanket flew off and he stared at me through glazed over “kill” eyes flooded with panic. I resisted the urge to scream, “BUSTED BEYOTCH.” Instead, using my most quiet voice, I slowly enunciating every syllable with precision, “Go. To. Bed.”
It’s the whisper they fear the most. I then promptly packed up his Xbox controllers and buried them in my underwear drawer.
How to Know if Your Son is Addicted to Video Games
- Does your son spend most of his non-school time playing?
- When asked to stop playing is their attitude frightening?
- Does your son lie to you about amount of play time? Worse, does he lie to himself. “I’ve only been on 30 minutes,” he’ll say when you know it’s been hours.
- Would he rather be at home playing video games than out with friends?
- Is he trying to get out of going to practice or club meetings so he can play?
- Is he irritable, cranky and seemingly disoriented when he isn’t playing video games?
- Does he eat dinner in under 20 seconds so he can get back to his game?
- Does he not turn in homework though he says it’s done? Are his grades slipping?
Handling Video Game Addiction
- Hide all controllers in your underwear drawer.
- Remove access to the game during the week. PERIOD.
- On the weekend, assuming all chores are done, homework was turned in on time and grades were maintained at an acceptable level, they may play for one to two hours per day. Get an egg timer and NEVER give in to more time. EVER. You will regret it. Trust me.
- Set up an attitude rule. If they give you tude when time is up, take it away for the next day. If it’s Sunday, they lose the following Saturday.
- Create a contract that you both sign outlining the rules above.
Bottom line? It’s your job to handle this for them. Like all technology, they aren’t old enough to do it themselves.
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