If you find yourself arguing with your youngster about video games, you're not alone. The 2007 annual MediaWise-Harris Video Game Report Card Poll® showed that you have lots of company.
Among other findings, the poll showed that almost four out of 10 parents say they argue with their kids about how much time youngsters spend playing games. Disputes about when games should be played and which games are appropriate are common as well.
The biggest bone of contention, however, is the amount of time kids spend playing. It's probably tempting for some parents to let the issue slide and avoid family friction. The showdowns over game time, however, are worth the aggravation. That's why an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Once game play is out of control, the arguments are more frequent and more heated. But, you can take steps to keep video game playing fun and in its proper place.
A Few Tips from Dr. Dave
First, be clear about the rules for when and how much time kids spend playing. Technology can help. The new Microsoft Xbox 360 has a time limit feature that parents can use.
Second, let your kids know ahead of time what the consequences will be if they don't follow the rules. Limiting or eliminating game play for a period of time can be effective.
Third, don't be afraid to put the console or the games in the closet for a while if the battles are constant or if the young player's protests cross over the line into disrespect.
A fourth step we can take as parents is to play the games our kids love so much. After all, we need to know what all the fuss is about.
Video games are fun and exciting, and they can be a very positive part of your child's activity diet. We just have to make sure our kids play age-appropriate games and don't overdo it. Then we can keep our young ones safe and avoid arguments in the future.
David Walsh, Ph.D. is the founder of the MediaWise Movement, a program of the National Institute on Media and the Family (www.mediawise.org). His latest book, No: Why Kids - of All Ages - Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It is available in bookstores.