News & Media

31 January 2019

Cutting back on screen time without the tantrums

Cutting down on a child’s gaming can seem like mission impossible at first – the slightest change can trigger a tantrum or your child might become extremely aggressive, abusive and defiant.

Boys playing video games

It’s not easy to implement changes if you fear the new rules will only set off negative behaviours. But, if you’re concerned about how much time your little one spends gaming, then it might be worth checking out these tips from our Kids Connect team.

Our Family Support Worker, Sharon Axten, has four simple ways you can help your child reduce their gaming habits.

USE TIMERS

There is a time for everything we do in life – school time, bed time, breakfast, lunch and dinner time, bath time, you name it. And guess what? Gaming is no different!

Rules in all households need to be clear and consistent. (Don’t bend the rules to allow for an extra 10 minutes.)

Use a timer to help keep track of the time your child spends on gaming devices. Agree to a suitable duration and ask your child to set the timer. Get them to also keep track of the time, to give them a sense of control over how long they spend gaming. Another bonus: when time’s up, there’s less wriggle room for arguments.

Girls playing Minecraft on desktop

SET A SCHEDULE

Yep, rules need to be clear and consistent. They also need to be fair.

Map out a clear, structured routine or roster of your household’s daily/weekly gaming times. Keep your roster on display (on the fridge, calendar or a pin board) so everyone can see it. Make it clear that your schedule applies to everyone in the family.

‘EARN’ GAMING TIME THROUGHOUT THE WEEK

If your family treats gaming time as a privilege, there will be fewer chances of gaming habits getting out of control. Developing a rewards system in your home can help.

Through a household rewards system, children can earn a certain amount of gaming time when they do chores around the home or when they use skills such as respect and manners. This type of system sets children up to work for their reward, just as adults work to earn a wage.

Kid playing video game

REMEMBER, PARENTS SHOULD LEAD BY EXAMPLE!

Parents tend to spend a lot of time on their mobile phones, browsing through social media, checking work emails or slumped in front of the telly after a hard day at work. Kids don’t differentiate between important work emails or scrolling through Facebook, so try to leave that until they’re in bed.

Family gaming can be a great way to spend time together and also limit the amount of time your kids spend gaming. Playing a 30-minute game with your kids is also a good way to check the games they’re playing are age-appropriate.

Try to set time for yourself to step away from technology and be in the moment with your child. Play board games, read a book together, kick the ball outside. Eat dinner and other meals at the table as a family with the TV turned off.

Your kids will learn there are other ways to have fun, which don’t involve gluing yourself to a screen.