Does Your Teen Spend Too Much Time Gaming?

Recently, a mother said to me, “My son spends too much time gaming! My husband and I are at our wits end! What do I do?”  This can be a challenging situation and every family has their own level of tolerance for gaming.  I wish I could say that I didn’t feel her pain. However, as a parent of a teen, I too have faced this question.  Here are three things to consider.

First, restricting the amount of time spent gaming is always an option.  Sometimes this is not just putting boundaries around “game time” but also around responsibilities that must be done before being permitted to play games.  Consider your expectations, and communicate to your teen that playing video games is a privilege.  By doing this, you send the message “work before play”.  Even with this restriction, determining a reasonable block of time is also fair.

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Have your teen earn game time…almost like a kid earns an allowance.  For example, doing something to help around the house could earn a block of minutes. I knew a parent that would only let her children game or watch TV if obligations were met AND the child was on the exercise bike while playing or watching. Don’t be afraid to get creative with that one!

If you feel your teen’s game play is interfering with other respo

nsibilities, do a mini coaching session.  This may help your teen come to his/her own realization of how much time is being wasted, or taken away from other important parts of life.  First off, don’t start with talking about gaming.

Ask questions like:  What are your goals for the semester? What do you think you need to do to achieve them?   Have your teen articulate how much time is needed to get certain grades, or be good at a particular sport, piano, etc. Throughout this process, be the cheerleader.  Ask your teen how you can best support him/her. Next, have your teen articulate how time is really being spent. On a separate piece of paper, log how time was spent over the previous week. You can make seven columns and do each day if that works for you.  Be specific and write it all down….time studying, socializing, playing sport, practicing an instrument, gaming, watching tv, texting, reading, anything….  This really sets the stage for talking about what goals will “actually” be met given the way time was spent.  You can start by asking “Based on how you spent your time, what do you think you will achieve? What will you be better at by the end of the semester?” From here, you can engage in a discussion about how your teen can adjust his/her time so as to be moving toward, not away from desired goals. 


It is healthy to talk about how much we ALL like to do fun things, but we have to meet our other obligations so that we CAN do fun things.  Too much of anything is usually not a good thing….


Please share your thoughts.  What has worked for you?


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Author: Shelly D Mahon

I have been working with families and teens for almost 20 years, and teaching in a university setting since the year 2000. My commitment is that parents have the support and resources they need to take care of themselves and foster the growth and development of their children. ABOUT ME I have a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) and over 20 years of experience working with youth and families. No matter what your family structure, I am committed to helping you make your family work. I can guid you in effectively managing divorce, strengthening parent-child relationships, embracing the teenage years, reducing risks and increasing resiliency in your families. If fostering the growth and development of your children is important to you, I am committed to working with you. APART, NOT BROKEN: LEARN, CONNECT, & CREATE! Apart, Not Broken is for divorced or separated parents who want to: Move past fear, pain, & guilt Create the life they want with their child Manage their relationship with their ex Contribute to others Be the creator of their future The program gives you a place to: Learn: Hear others real experiences and insights. Receive information and recommendations that can make a measurable difference in adjusting and parenting after separation or divorce. Connect: Join an online community. Learn to use creative strategies to connect with your child and manage your relationship with their ex-partner. Create: Feel powerful in your ability to be the parent YOU want to be. Create the relationship YOU want with their child by building on existing strengths, starting new traditions, and creating lasting memories. This program has: – Videos reflecting real life experiences; – Online tools for sharing photos, comparing calendars, communicating, and more; – Current & concise information about divorce & parenting after divorce; – Engaging activities to enjoy with their child; & – Additional resources to build their own parenting toolbox. Happy Parenting, Shelly I took my first Human Development and Family Studies course as an undergraduate at 18 years old. This was the beginning of a lifetime love and commitment to this field. I have another online program Parenting Through Middle School. I am the mother of two teens myself. This has been an interesting journey and quite the adventure. Over the years, I have learned that parenting takes a lot of energy, but it is well worth the effort. To me, parenting brings to life an ever-changing spectrum of human emotion. It is filled with moments of love, excitement, anticipation, expectations, fears, hopes, and dreams. It has made me laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time! Just when I think I have everything figured out, my children change. In these moments I realize that I too must change. As they grow, I find myself looking for the balance between teaching them my values, beliefs, and interests and helping them discover and develop into their own unique individual characters. I love to exercise, eat well, sing and play my piano. My favorite sports are running, mountain biking, hiking, snowshoeing, snowboarding, yoga, Pilates, and most recently, road biking. Happy Parenting! Shelly

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