Privilege versus Right
As parents consider establishing rules and guidelines for children’s video game playing, Technology Wellness Center recommends limit the activity to one hour per day for children eight and older. An hour provides children with enough satisfying time to play video games without approaching the line of too much. In addition, some research has demonstrated (as reported in earlier posts) that children who play up to one hour per day fare better emotionally and interpersonally than children who do not play at all. With this premise in mind I granted my children (ages 8, 10 and 11), this precious daily hour to enjoy. However, after a year of this level of daily access, it has become increasingly clear that it’s a parenting strategy that can go very wrong. Oh my – so very, very wrong.
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[membership]Upon reflection, this summer has proven to me that automatically granting access to video game time has created children who believe that their one-hour of game time is a RIGHT. There are at least one to two days per week where game time does not fit into the schedule. For most families, busy summers include being away from home at day camp, on vacation, working and playing outside, engaging in special activities and getting involved in the community. After a busy day and evening, my family would arrive home (just in time for bed) and the children would insist that they had a right to play their one-hour of video games. This quickly led to an argument about the right versus privilege of game time. After a month and a half of these battles, I decided that video game time should to be earned rather than granted. Under our new household rule, my children have the opportunity to earn video game time the following day by exhibiting positive behavior the day prior. This small, yet seemingly simple, shift in rules and expectations has eliminated the right versus privilege debate in our household.
For those looking to establish rules for younger children or address issues with ‘tweens and teens, consider the following tips:
- Do not tell your child that they get a specific amount of video game time each day; but make sure to set a limit on how much time is allowed.
- Set-up parameters for earning game time; this could be a trade-off with time spent outdoors, time helping around the house, or granted as a reward for good behavior.
- When they earn the opportunity, communicate clearly that they will have 60 minutes to use the following day.
- Take note of your children’s behavior through the day and determine if it dictates the privilege of video game time.
- Break it down by starting with 0 minutes earned and for good behavior demonstrated they have a chance to increase the amount of video game time earned in increments of 10 to 15 minutes. This is a particularly good option for younger children who respond positively to rewards. Rewards are an effective way to teach children appropriate behavior. (http://esciencenews.com/articles/2008/09/25/from.12.years.onward.you.learn.differently)
- Another option is to start at 60 minutes and whittle down video game time based on poor behavior demonstrated by your child. This may be a more appropriate tool for rewarding older children. http://esciencenews.com/articles/2008/09/25/from.12.years.onward.you.learn.differently
The key is determining guidelines that work well for your family and then practicing consistency. If kids know they can wear you down on any given day or extend their time, you are opening the door to a whole new set of issues. While the debate of privilege vs. right is focused on how much time children should be allowed to play video games, remember what they play is important to monitor as well.[/membership]