June 6, 2020

Battling Video Game Addiction In Children

I used to be the odd Mom out – never letting my kids watch anything other than Veggie Tales and Signing Time. As they’ve grown, so has our DVD library, and for about six weeks we subscribed to cable. My oldest son has always been willing to watch TV for hours, so I always watched how much time I allowed him to sit in front of it. Now he’s getting bigger and my boys shared a V-Smile until it broke. We have a few preschool computer games that the boys enjoy using as well. I still have to be extremely cautious with how much time my boys play their games – especially my oldest son. My younger son gets bored with them and has a more natural tendency to want to play outside.

Still, watching both of them sitting in front of the TV screen with the joystick in hand and the latest Pkv games or whatever you call it is a sight that gets on my nerves as they would become homesick and with no physical activity, I fear they would become lazy and lethargic.

As if the battle wasn’t hard enough, their dad has started letting them watch him play, and even occasionally play along with some of his games. I am thankful he is cautious about content, but unfortunately the camaraderie they are sharing is not helping my oldest son learn to limit his time using electronic entertainment. Yesterday the battle was unbelievable – my oldest son left my youngest son out of the game he was playing with their building blocks, so their dad left the oldest one out while letting the youngest one watch him play a game.

I got to listen to the wailing of my oldest son, and I was annoyed by the sound, the situation, and my heart hurt just a little bit as I watched the whole thing unfold. Determining to not allow this video game session to ruin my son’s afternoon, I encouraged him to join me in the schoolroom. He stared at me like I was crazy as I got our giant floor coloring book down. For some reason we are still coloring in a Halloween Monsters and Goblins coloring book – but my boys don’t seem to mind. For a minute he acted like he was mad and couldn’t believe I would try to make him color when he was so upset, but when he realized I was going to color with him, he happily got busy coloring me a multi-colored snake.

Despite the battle yesterday, I felt like a huge revelation happened for me. To battle this potential addiction, my son needs my time. He doesn’t need me to distract him with other things to do, or at least not all of the time, he needs me to lie down on the floor and color with him. Or read with him, or go for a walk, or jump on the trampoline. He needs interaction. Yes, his time in front of the games should be limited – he’s only 5 after all, but someday I won’t be there to limit his time for him. He needs to have the life skills to do it for himself, he needs to know and appreciate the value of interacting with other people so that he can seek that out more than he seeks out the next video game for his entertainment.