Walk through any suburban neighborhood after school hours, and you’re likely to see less children playing outside than you would have a decade ago, even if the weather is nice. Why? Because more and more kids are spending their free time in front of a computer screen rather than venturing outdoors. The culprit? Computer games. Some are educational, others are realistic, but the one thing they all seem to be is addictive.
Signs of a Problem
Simply playing computer games a lot isn’t enough to constitute an addiction. While there are certainly more productive ways your child could be spending his free time, a video game habit isn’t dangerous until it begins to interfere with other aspects of his life. For instance, if your youngster prefers computer games to hanging out with friends and family, or if he begins to neglect his chores or schoolwork, then there may be a problem.
What to Do About Computer Game Addiction
If you’re worried that your child is spending too much time in front of the computer screen, trust your instincts. You don’t need a psychologist or even an online quiz to tell you when there’s a problem with your child. As soon as you realize that computer games are getting in the way of other activities and responsibilities, it’s time to talk with your child and set some boundaries. Decide beforehand how much time you will allow your child to spend playing games each day, and then be firm about the new rules. Explain to your youngster that the limits are there to protect her, not to punish her. If your child breaks the rules, be prepared to administer appropriate consequences. It may be necessary to take her computer privileges away for a period of time, for instance, in order to send the message that you’re serious about the new guidelines.
Monitoring Your Child’s Screen Time
Once you’ve set some boundaries in place, it’s crucial that you monitor your child’s computer time. There are some practical steps you can take to make sure that he adheres to the time limits each day such as setting a timer, insisting that your child use the computer in a common area of the house, or setting a password to the family PC. In reality, though, you can’t be everywhere at once, and opportunities are bound to arise for your child to do something he shouldn’t. Kids will be kids, after all. That’s why installing a computer monitoring app onto the computers and devices your child uses is imperative. Such applications will monitor the time your child spends on the computer as well as how he uses that time. You’ll receive detailed reports so that you can stay on top of things, even when you’re not around.
If it’s time to break your child’s addiction to computer games, Qustodio can help. Visit our website today to download our free parental monitoring software.