Updated: Jun 26
You have more power than you think.
Today’s kids have so many more things to entertain their brains that most never feel the need to pick up a book. It is a shame because their ability to imagine is being siphoned away to hours of gaming. Do not get me wrong. I am not against video games, but I feel the amount of time spent on them needs a monitor. You will have to start a dialogue with your kids first. Explain why you are making the change in your home. Let them know you care about their mental well-being. It is also a good idea to show them a few videos showing how too much gaming went wrong.
It is best to start this at a young age, but some of these tips are for all ages. You may need to tweak the perks a bit. I found with older kids, the one that controls the Internet is the one with the power. Teens are not always on a console but will not be without their phones. So, limit their data plan unless they want to get a job and buy it themselves. Also, invest in an internet router that allows you to block WiFi on individual devices. I use an Orbi.
First, for younger children, the parents really should control the accounts the kids are playing. Playstation, Microsoft, and Nintendo have excellent parental controls that are pretty easy to set up. Why should you do this? It makes the machine the “bad guy,” not the parent. When screen time is up, the machine signs the child out of the account, then the children will come to you for more screen time; at this point, you can bring up my next issue. Chores and reading are things kids need to do. Gaming is something kids want to do. The needs and wants are very similar to parents and their money. We want to have money, and working is how we earn it.
Responsibilities in the home not only keep your home clean but it teaches the kids they are part of a more extensive system. All of the features need to work together to be successful. Tying screen time to chores teaches the children to work for what they want. Let’s face it; every kid needs to understand this, or parents will never get them to grow up and move out. A responsibility chart is a great visual way for kids to learn to earn what they want. They will physically see how their actions are getting them closer to their goals. In conjunction with the responsibility chart, I highly recommend an app like Chorepad to keep track of their progress, and it can add or subtract rewards as needed.
So now that we have chores for the kids to earn what they want, how do we get them reading? You guessed it, the reward system. Kids love bonuses, and reading is a great way to get them. Now that the kids have less screen time, you can provide them with exciting books. Say things like, if you get this book read, I may have (fill in the blank) for you. Why does this work? The child is now bored in the house and reading a book no longer looks like a tedious task, and they are getting something just for not being bored. If you choose an excellent series, you may be surprised to hear them ask for the second book.
The basic idea is first to get free time back into your children’s life previously taken up by gaming. Then fill it with a purpose, in this example, the chore, allowing the child to have a sense of worth in the family instead of just thinking their mere presence is enough. Next, rewarding them for a job well done and docking them for mediocre work will teach them quality matters. Lastly, a springboard from that quality statement by providing bonuses is where I like to incorporate reading, but you could also make reading one of the daily chores.
1. Account control- Limiting screen time, internet control, or just taking the cords if you want to go old school.
2. Create responsibilities- To earn screen time.
3. Create a reward system - As an incentive to do the chores.
4. Offer bonuses for reading - To bring back reading.
That is it. The hardest part will be account control for the older kids. Now kids can make new gaming accounts in their sleep, so I highly recommend the WiFi control in that case. If you are interested in learning how to parental control your gaming account, please check out my other blogs at: www.connections2life.com.