Parenting

Why I Let My Kid Play All the Video Games He Wants

kid playing games

A lot of parents do a great job of limiting their kids' screen time. And that's great. I congratulate you all. But I've taken a very different approach. My kid is a gamer, and I don't tell him how much screen time he can have.

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It didn't start out that way. When he first became interested in games, I tried to keep track. I created a stack of screentime cards, 30 minutes per card. He got a certain amount a week, and it was up to him to decide how he used that time. That worked for a while.

But I got busier, and he became way more serious about his gaming. I became less vigilant about limiting his laptop time.

Then I noticed something I didn't expect -- my son gravitated to more creative and problem-solving type games like Minecraft and Portal 2. As I watched him play, I realized that gaming can be so much more than shooting things with your thumbs. It's far from passive or mindless. It excited his imagination and inspired his creativity even offline.

It turns out the gaming world extends beyond the screen. It's a subculture that exists in countless board and card games. It's chess. It's strategy. It's demented and sad, but social, to borrow a line from The Breakfast Club. (I'm kidding -- it's not sad. But it can be demented in a good way.)

I also discovered that my son has his own internal sense of how much screen time is too much. He's self aware enough to notice how he feels when he's overdone it: He feels kind of sick and disappointed. He feels regret. He's learned that he actually doesn't want to spend every waking hour of his spare time hunched over the blinking lights of a laptop or iPhone.

And that's the really crazy thing. For a lot of his friends, screen time is a treasure they lust after because it's mostly forbidden. They want more, more, more. For my son, it's just an option he can take for granted. He's learned for himself that there's such a thing as too much online gaming. I know not every child is like that, but for a kid who's obsessed with empirical knowledge, that's a powerful thing to know.

I'm not saying I've got this down perfectly. I definitely still worry about too much screen time. But it's something we're both aware of and that we keep talking about.

So yeah, my son's a gamer. And I don't set limits at the moment. But our family is actually okay with that.

Do you set limits for your kids' gaming?

 

Image via Sergey Novikov/Shutterstock

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