Do you live with a child obsessed with video games?
A kid who’d rather play Minecraft than ball?
Who would sooner build worlds in Terraria than accompany you to the neighborhood barbecue?
I took it hard, the day I finally admitted to myself that what most inspires my nine-year-old son is a video game.
Certain we were on the road to laziness, brain atrophy, and obesity, I went through a long spell of helicopter parenting: policing, nagging, and threatening.
My lowest move was to hide the ipad.
This was not a sustainable approach. It didn’t make the desire for video games go away. If anything, the deprivation increased the appetite. It made everybody feel bad.
I had to face facts: the world was against me in this fight. Laptops, ipads, ipods, smart phones, Xbox–this stuff isn’t going anywhere.
I needed a positive approach to video games, to screen time in general, a term meaning any time spent in front of a screen: games, movies, or movies of other kids playing games. The following strategies worked.
I now look at screen time as a fact of life. It doesn’t depress me that my kids like this stuff. I no longer believe that loving Minecraft means you are a lazy and dull person, irrevocably obsessed with video games and destined to suffer from nervous breakdowns or clogged arteries.
And most importantly, I don’t feel guilty about my changed beliefs.
Limits are the key. Start with your attitude: approach video games as one of many options in the vast tool bag containing cool things your kids get to do, rather than the evil monster that will take over your life.
The beast can be tamed. Here’s how.
#1 Accept that gaming is fun for your child, even if it’s not fun for you
Those of us who did not grow up with ipads, ipods, and multitudes of devices wonder why anyone would want to spend his down time in a two-dimensional world with no real plot?
Well, not a lot of us want to play tag for more than ten minutes, either.
Minecraft offers yet another opportunity to separate your experience from that of your child.
It isn’t your fault. The love of games did not come from your failure to expose them to sports or to read to them. They like what they like.