For about three decades, video game systems have made their mark in history as an electronic babysitter. And there are some benefits. Many children sit still and pay attention to the games for hours, leaving parents free to get things done around the home.
Yet recently, our son earned some poor grades on his report card. So, now he does not play video games during the week to allow more time for homework. And it’s great. There are far more benefits to limiting the time your child spends on video games. Here are a few I have observed.
The home is not as noisy. For five days, I do not hear digital gunfire, explosions, racing cars, or the same fantastical magic tricks over and over again. I also don’t hear his whining or tantrums when he had to complete a mission or attempt to defeat a boss for the twelfth time in a row. He and his friends are not yelling at each other and arguing over who shot who first and who truthfully won the mission.
He doesn’t conquer the game as fast. Since he can’t spend seven days a week on a video game, it isn’t completed in seven days. Therefore, the game does not grow old or boring as fast. This is awesome, as our son gets games only at Christmas, on his birthday, or when he makes the honor roll. We aren’t the type of family that spends $60 each month on a new video game the instant it comes out.
Our son appears more appreciative of the game systems. He’s playing some of his older games. He pulled out the first Halo to play with a friend today. He appears more happy and entertained by the games now that he can’t have them every day, hopefully helping to teach that one cannot have what they want all of the time. He’s not whining about how he’s tired of his video games.
Bedtime is much easier. Sometimes we don’t have to remind him to go to bed, as our son will go on his own now that the XBox controllers and DS are hidden during the week. He is much calmer and not hyper in the evenings, though still chatty during dinner. Whether or not there is a link between electronic media and hyperactivity is a topic of studies, discussion, and arguments. He seems to fall asleep easier.
He’s playing with the “forgotten toys.” Out with the video games, in with the Legos, board games, Nerf guns, and action figures that lay in waiting in his room. He is entertaining himself with other objects people put their hard earned money into.
Teaching the lesson of priority. Children have few responsibilities. Attending school and passing is one of the major ones. Taking away the game stations are helping to teach these responsibilities to our son. It also emphasizes what family values are important.
I greatly encourage parents to limit the amount of time their children spend on video and computer games. Setting limits will help reduce arguments over when to get off the system or computer. It may help your family save a bit of money as they won’t spend an entire day conquering a game and then demand another new one. Maybe you don’t have to take it away during the weekdays, but perhaps limit game time to one hour to promote more completion of homework and chores, and more time spent at the dinner table as a family.