Addicting games and your kids
The August doldrums have set in, the glow of summer has dulled. Parents will do anything to keep the kids entertained and not squabbling, including what I call “sugared screen time.”
My biggest fear for our 4 children (now 23-30) was addiction — like drugs, alcohol, anorexia, bulimia, gambling, and video games.
I just read, “Unplugged: My Journey into the Dark World of Video Game addiction” by Ryan G. Van Cleave Ph. D. Wow. Powerful. I love first-person stories told with disarming honesty.
His brutal page-turning honesty has phrases like: “I didn’t get help until I’d sunken so far into a virtual existence that there was damn near nothing left for me to return to in real life, which is why this book begins with me on a bridge at the end of my life.”
That’s powerful self-disclosure about the destruction of the havoc World of Warcraft wreaked on his life. Most video game consumers are like Ryan — 20- or 30-something. He says little about how video games can desensitize humans to violence. Ryan’s focus is addiction and the difficulty of kicking the virtual habit.
I love to give books like this to tweens and teens so they can read a compelling true first-person account of addiction. “A Million Little Pieces” By James Frey, true or not, offers the same first-person horror that I hope instills fear and good decision. Warning: Ryan describes sexual exploits so preview the book. It might be too much for middle-schoolers.
My 60/60 parenting theory goes like this. Invest the first 12 years in loving them unconditionally, having family meetings to set reasonable boundaries together that are enforced by firm, friendly and consistent parents, avoid reward and punishment, capitalize on the trio of family dinner, family chores and family meetings, and use natural and logical consequences that are related, respectful and reasonable.
This style of “discipline” will make a difference in your family life. Children learn mutual respect, responsibility, self-discipline, self-esteem and how to make good decisions. S/he will use that good decision-making ability to choose well as teenagers when they’re 60 miles away, going 60 miles an hour, most likely in your car. That day is inevitable unless your child escapes to Mars from age 13 to 19.
The goal is to get them to choose wisely when you’re not around. This requires a positive relationship based on mutual respect. Plant those seeds from birth to 12.
For the gamers, have a family meeting to negotiate a reasonable amount of screen time per day and how to monitor it. Remove screens from bedrooms. Kids need adults for guidance. Enforce agreements in a kind, firm and consistent manner. When kids are involved in setting limits they are more likely to abide by them. Use video game time judiciously as video gaming has replaced TV as the preferred in-home babysitter.
Teach them the valuable life skill of moderation so they don’t end up addicted to World of Warcraft like Ryan Van Cleeve.Explore posts in the same categories: 60-60 theory, Encouragement, Family meetings, firm and friendly, kind and firm, Ryan G. Van Cleave Ph.D., summer vacation, teenagers comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.