We have struggled with ways to limit my teenage son's use of the computer for game playing. He has difficulty seeing how many hours of his life are being eaten away by hours spent in our basement playing games on the computer. This is time he could be spending outdoors and face-to-face socializing with friends. We try to tell him, "You are only a teenager once... you don't want to miss out on this time in your life."
We don't want to eliminate game playing completely because just like junk food, if you are never allow it, and you get alone with it... you'll binge.
On line game playing is part of his culture... as a family we are not about checking out of mainstream completely, but we are about finding a healthy balance between technology and simple living.
One of the biggest problems about limiting game playing, and this is true for adults too, is that time passes differently when you are on a computer.
Einstein said, "Time is relative." It really is... when you are absorbed in a virtual world.
Getting TimesUpKidz has really helped to sync our son's gaming time with the clock. It is a program that you load on to your computer. We give our son access to his games through this program. Within this program you can set limits for the total time per week of computer usage, and you can create time blocks within a day that the computer can be turned on. When you run out of your allotted time, the computer turns off...simple.
Before we installed this program we sat down with my son and discussed how much time he really needed to play games verses how much time he needed to do other activities and his homework. We also talked about what days and what times in each of those days would be best for him to play on the computer.
It was really important to have my son involved in deciding on the perimeters of his computer usage.
We feel that learning self-discipline and self-control are critical life skills, especially to a kid that is growing up in time that is very focused on self-indulgence.
So far, using the program has reduced tension around my son't computer usage. When my son logs into the computer he can see how much time he has to use the computer for that day and for the rest of the week.
He is trying to make more conscious decisions about his game playing based on when he knows other friends might want to play a group game and when he has homework assignments due.
As a parent it has been great to have an objective third party, i.e. TimesUpKidz, between my son and my husband and I. I think the planning aspect of using this program is an invaluable life skill for my son... I highly recommend checking out this program for your child or even for yourself or your partner. Adults as well as kids have problems controlling their gaming time. This is really a simple living program, you set it and make adjustments periodically...seriously: TimesUpKidz !!!