Often the fastest way to occupy our kids is providing them with video games, smartphones, and televisions. All too late we realize the folly in this strategy when it comes to peeling our children away from their screens to get them involved in something else. While some video games do provide opportunities to develop problem-solving skills, they often impede valuable social interaction and physical activity crucial for healthy development in children. Video games can become a very overindulgent activity, consuming larger and larger portions of time. With video games being so easily accessible and obsessive, how can parents take measures to ensure that their kids are exploring other interests?

5 parenting tips to get your family to spend less time playing video games…

…without moving to a remote location and cutting off all power supply.

1. Turn family bonding time into a game.

If your child already has a high affinity for video games, leverage that interest into other family activities by establishing a family game night. Playing board games or trivia games together not only allows them to strengthen their analytical capabilities but also to enjoy some quality social time as a family.  

2. Use video game time as a reward.

By letting your kids play video games as a reward for completing other tasks, you can easily balance out their time. For example implement a weekly chore list or homework policy, where those things must be completed to earn game time. You limit your child’s video game time by replacing it with beneficial activities. 

3. Get them interested in outdoor activities.

Whether its playing sports or going to the park, encouraging children to spend time engaged in the outdoors or in play minimizes their time for gaming and replaces it with healthy physical activity. 

4. Track their gaming time.

Track of how much time each child plays video games in a given week. Ask each of your family members what they would do if they had more time in a day or week. Then show them the total time they’ve gamed that week and have a discussion about how this time could be spent in other areas. This will make them aware of the magnitude of their video gaming and give them ideas of how they could cut back on it to get more of the other things they want. 

5. Set daily limits to gaming.

Come up with a reasonable time limit for gaming that you feel is appropriate for your children and a plan for implementing it. Sit down, and have a discussion with your entire family so everyone understands how much video game time will be allowed and when. It's crucial that everyone is on the same page. To avoid having the discussion turn into an argument about restrictions and privileges, make it clear that the limits are about healthy indulgence. 

Starting a family dialog about healthy indulgence is a wonderful thing. It helps everyone to be supportive of limits and boundaries. Life is about balance, and — as we all know from experience--many things quickly become overindulgent activities. 

Overall, spending more time with your child will be key to cutting back on video game hours. The extra bonding time will provide valuable insight into their other interests.