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  1. #1

    Default Video games struggle

    (I posted this on the Project-Based Homeschooling forum. I would love feedback from you too!)

    I have had a constant struggle with video games. My husband is a gamer and the kids follow in his footsteps.
    My struggle is with finding the right balance.
    I notice that the video games are taking away a lot of time in their lives. Time that could be spent on projects or other personal pursuits. I also realize that maybe video games is their project.
    I am not sure what to do. If I voice my opinion, it sounds like I am "dictating" that they lower their video games time and do "other things" that interest them. I have done that in the past but don't want to do that again. At the same time, I know my kids have other interests, but choose video games or movies first. I often feel that they choose that because it is easy and accessible.
    Am I just not respecting them enough? Am I to let the video games take over completely? Am I to try to gently explain what I feel?
    Do I ask them for their input on an idea for a schedule? Schedules still feel like it's me "dictating" again. Their choice would be to play for hours. I have been told in the past that maybe I should give them all access. I did that and they only wanted more and more. I tried that experiments for several months, thinking that the video games would get old and they would naturally lean towards something else. But they just wanted more, it became all they did, all the time.

    I am looking for opinions. Or ideas. Or support! I have struggled with this for years. Having a gamer husband leaves me alone in this. I keep worrying that my children are "wasting" their time away with these games. He doesn't see anything wrong with it because he has no other interests.

    thank you .
    Home Learning since July 2005. Currently homeschooling my youngest (dd10)
    while my two oldest (dd 17 & ds 15) attend public senior high school (they both homeschooled until grade 9).

    Come and visit us at Life on Prince Edward Island.

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  3. #2


    I'm afraid won't be much help here, because my son is younger and I have absolutely no problems telling my son when too much is too much, but I can at least offer sympathy. My son is a lot like yours. Left to his own devices, he'd be an addict. Literally. He'll steal, lie, and sneak to get extra electronics time. Like you, sometimes I get told to just leave him be and he'll regulate himself, but I've tried that and he won't do it, either. He would be that kid who would die before going pee. I'll catch him up at 2 a.m. watching Minecraft tutorials or playing the Xbox if he thinks he can get away with it.

    So the question I've come to ask myself is: Is it hurting his life? If the answer is yes (and with my son, it often is because he won't get school/chores done or he'll be rude to his friends or he won't get the sleep he needs to be a functional human being the next day), then I have to regulate it because it's safer and healthier for him and for everyone. It is my job as a parent to make sure that he learns to find a balance in his life, and if that means I have to hide the remotes and dole out time when and how I please, then that's what I do. If the answer is no, then I have to ask myself why I feel the need to regulate? Is it because I feel like he's not going to achieve his life goals because of games? Is it because I feel that the electronics usage is unhealthy? What's going on in MY head that makes it such an ugly thing to be on electronics all the time?

    I don't have any good answers. I wish I did. I struggle with it a lot. I would insist that the kids do one thing each week that is NOT related to electronics and probably leave it at that. Not having teens, I don't really know how to deal with them yet. Like I said, you have my sympathy, though, and I hope you're able to work something out!
    Sarah B., Oklahoma

    "By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest." - Confucius

    Blog: Our Sunnyview

    Less-than-Zenlike mother of:
    M1 - The Boy, age 11, home since 2009 - loves science, swimming, and folk music
    M2 - The Girl, age 9, home since 2012 - loves anatomy, the arts, and her violin

  4. #3


    Here, I feel like we have a relatively good balance, but it's hard to know how much of that is my attitude and rules and how much of it is the luck of the draw with kids with decent attitudes.

    We do limit them most of the time. For us, I found a long time ago that I can't decide on a case by case basis whether it can be "screen time" at that moment. There needs to be a routine and it needs to be pretty set. And then it feels like the routine is dictating these limits instead of me. But I've tried to give a pretty generous limit - and when there are screens, they can do whatever they want with them that's allowed and I don't interfere. Also, that creative use of screens is always allowed - so movie making projects, art apps, sending an email, etc. are always allowed if there's not something else that you have to be doing.

    One thing that I find helps us is that around birthdays and Christmas and a few other times, we'll have a couple of weeks of zero rules about screens. And the kids get to go nuts and play nonstop. And pretty much every time, my kids burn out on them after awhile and turn to other things and begin to self-regulate - they still play more than I feel like is great, but not non-stop. And I think that helps them see that when we go back to the limits, that they're good.

    But, like I said, I don't know how much of this is my methods and how much is that I have kids who don't have addictive attitudes about gaming in general.
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  5. #4
    Senior Member Arrived dbmamaz's Avatar
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    my kids are totally in to games. when i started homeschooling ,my husband was running a guild on World of Warcraft, playing every spare moment and staying up too late playing. he was not willing to limit his playing. so my rule was no games from when homeschool starts to when it ends. they can have breaks, but they are mostly non-electronic (i've let my teen check facebook, research stuff, occasionally even read some fan fics).

    when school is over, its free time.

    during breaks and crises, its full on gaming time.

    i do find that my kids are happier after a day of some school and some electronics time

    i do think they would benefit from less electronics time - and dh is now obsessed with cardboard war games and not on line as much except to watch basketball - but i'm still not ready to fight that fight.
    Cara, homeschooling one
    Raven, ds 10, all around intense kid
    Orion, floundering recent graduate
    22 yo dd, not at home
    Inactive blog at longsummer

  6. #5


    My ds spends a lot of time gaming. I too feel uncomfortable dictating how his free time is spent.

    I did impose a 9-3 'ban' on school days, explaining to him that he wouldn't have access to games if he was at school, so we would do the same here. He's OK with this. I also have control over the kind of games he plays. We do negotiate, but I have last word. He also has to save for games/consoles...I don't shell out for them unless it's for a b'day or Xmas,

    If it helps - ds has learnt a huge amount from gaming - from spelling to social skills to design.

    Also, every young adult gamer I have met - and with ds around that's a lot! - has been a lovely, kind person. I kid you not. Gaming shops, expos - patient, helpful, they talk to my ds with respect and interest. People can be gamers and be pleasant, articulate, socially skilled and employed! That put my mind at rest :-)

    I do watch ds for signs that it's getting out of hand. He is always OK with turning games off, capable of playing non-game activities, interested in physical activity, helps with chores, enjoys read alouds etc, so I think we're OK for now.

    Would i rather have a son out building tree houses ? Yep. But I still have a lovely boy, and I do try to meet him where he's at and show an interest in gaming. For example, this year I've enrolled in a Coursera class on Narrative and Gaming.

    It sounds like gaming is your family 'culture', due to your dh also gaming. I also think it's OK for you to claim time to spend with the kids doing things that are more your style. Or to game yourself :-)

    (Don't worry, I don't hurts my eyes...)

    My concern from what you post is less that your kids prefer playing and more that you, the mom and non-game player, is on the outer.

    Eta One thing I found helpful was ds getting advice on responsible playing from a source he found credible. For us, that is an awesome TV show called Good Games Spawn Point, hosted by two young adults. They give great advice about things like taking breaks from games, eye strain issues, posture etc. All I have to do is remind ds what Good Games said and he is happy to comply. Things like 'You've been playing for a while now. How about a trampoline break to help your body stretch out and let your eyes have some middle distance focus ?'

    I wonder if your dh could be the role model for your dc ? It's valid to have health and safety concerns for children who are spending long periods gaming. Would he at least be open to being the imposer of limits in this one area ? If he values gaming, it's really his responsibility to take that on.
    Last edited by Stella M; 01-15-2013 at 05:37 PM.

  7. #6
    Senior Member Arrived Mum's Avatar
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    More empathy. My kid spends A LOT of time playing Minecraft. Like Kara and Stella I ban games and tv during school hours. Depending on your HS style that may or may not work for you.

    I have to say that I love and respect the attitude you have when you approach the issue. I'd be surprised if children feel like their wants and needs aren't respected with a mom who is clearly very concerned about validating her kids' independence and choices, even if you do need to put some rules or requests in place.
    Get your geek on.

  8. #7


    We ban video games during school hours. We have daily limits on amount of time spent, and they are not allowed on them until their other chores and such are done. It is a constant struggle here. We have some behavior issues here when there is too much screen time, and not enough physical activity. One compromise we have now is Just Dance, they can play that for P.E. on the XBOX.

    I have my own brand of crazy, but some people make me look positively sane.


  9. #8


    What if you joined them? Let them teach you? Let them take you on as a "project," and learn from them - learn what they get out of it, what they're learning from it, what they enjoy about it, what inspires them, motivates them, drives them.

    Gaming isn't *just* playing. Playing is how we learn, and we can learn a lot when our guard is down and we seek out things we enjoy, things we're good at. They're naturally building up those skills they are good at (that's why they enjoy doing what they do - they're good and so it's fun). The more you know about what skills they're good at, the more you can introduce them to other things that are related, things they might not yet be familiar with. It also shows them you do recognize and respect their interests as being worthwhile and genuinely interesting. It also gives you precious bonding time.
    "For children, life is play and play is learning."

    - Naomi Aldort

  10. #9
    Senior Member Arrived Avalon's Avatar
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    Aug 2011


    I am perfectly okay with limiting gaming time. If I think it's negatively affecting their behaviour, mood, or lifestyle, then I will set up whatever rules or boundaries that I deem necessary to ensure their proper growth, development, and successful launching into adulthood.

    My husband is a serious, avid gamer who has worked in the video game industry for the past 13 years, and he completely supports my position. Because of his age, my husband was able to grow up to the age of 12 or 13 before any really great gaming platforms were even invented (like Atari and Intellivision), so he had a proper childhood of playing hockey, building with lego, riding his bike, and hanging out with friends and cousins. The gaming experience that is available today is more intense, more addictive, more stimulating, and utterly unlike anything that previous generations had available. I think it's reasonable for the kids to have access to the games, but not if sleep, nutrition, exercise, or outside interests are affected.

    I also flatly refuse to have any violent video games beamed into my living room. My husband does play a few of what I consider "violent" games, but only on his own PC in the basement after the kids are in bed at night. Good thing he's a night owl.

    As far as setting boundaries or time-limits, I look at it this way: if my kid were in school, he'd be away from home until 4pm every day, then he'd have homework, activities (sports, piano, etc...), household chores, possibly a part-time job, etc... The maximum gaming time available would be one or two hours per day, and that's approximately what I will permit here. We homeschool so that the kids can have more freedom and flexibility to pursue their goals, and getting a level 60 character on World of Warcraft is not the type of goal that I quit my job to support.

  11. #10


    Everything I am going to say comes from the side of the "kid" and not meant to offend in any way, shape or form

    Some people (kids included) have addictive personalities and it's VERY hard to break them off that. It really doesn't matter what it is. When I was a kid, I used to read a lot. Great, right? Welllll, yes, until it would start interfering with other. things. After we came to US, it was TV (still is, actually). It can be anything, really. I've done non-stop knitting or being on the net. I hope you get the idea - the activity itself is not as important as the ability to be able to get away from it. My parents tried VERY hard to do something about it. But I am VERY stubborn and VERY strong-willed and never learned to "stop". Yes, i do it now, bc let's face it - I can't let my kids go hungry just bc I need to finish "that page" or "that project", but it's very hard to do.

    So, to answer your question - I WOULD put limits on it simply bc they need to get into a habit of doing "other" things first. I firmly believe that we can overcome many things with learned behaviour, so I would try to install those habits now. And I wouldn't go at it from the perspective of video games are bad. Simply - there is too much to life to learn and experience and do, in addition that there are things that HAVE TO get done - so, let's try to learn to balance it all out.

    I am muddling through this thing called parenting, but one of the things I try to teach the kids over and over again - too much of anything is not good, so...

    Sorry for rambling, I hope it makes sense. Good luck!!
    Mom to 3 boys
    DS 7 who sings me the most beautiful songs and tells me amazing stories
    DS 6 a.k.a Monkey whose goofy faces make my heart smile
    DS 4 my little big man

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Video games struggle