5 Ways to Cut Video Game Time at Home

by Audrey McClelland | October 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm | comments

As a digital mom, I spend a great deal of time online. I’m on MomGenerations.com, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram…and a whole lot of sites throughout the day. Part of my job as a digital mom is updating and making sure I’m constantly creating content through postings, videos, tweets and status updates. I may not work a regular 9-5 job, but I feel I have a great set-up the way my work life goes.

When the boys are home from school, I try my hardest to stay offline and only focus on them. I don’t want them thinking that while we’re eating dinner together that I need to be online or that while we’re at the library or at swim team that I always need to be digitally connected. It’s important for me to show my sons that there are boundaries and limits and that I’m 100% focused on them when we’re together.

That said, I expect the same from them. My guys are obsessed with their games. With four boys in the house that all love to be connected, I know their digital-play-time could get out of control if I didn’t limit them. I’ve seen too many of my friends’ sons become addicted to their gaming systems and completely checkout of family time.

We have one set rule that all the boys know and follow when it comes to game time: when mommy says STOP, they stop. I’m very focused on keeping them together and busy with activities throughout the day, after school and on the weekends. I want game time to be a special treat, not a regular activity.

There are many things that I do to keep the boys “distracted” from constantly playing their games, and I’m very proud of my husband and I for keeping up on these activities.

Employ Everyone

Have them help with snack time or dinner when they come home from school. I give everyone a job and make sure they are involved. Even if it just means setting the table, it’s still something that they’re doing and keeping them in the kitchen with me talking, sharing and connecting.

Get Physical

I sign everyone up for swimming lessons and/or swim team. Physical activity is VERY important to me – it’s something that keeps my sons healthy, but also enriches them with friends and team work. I love seeing my guys doing this together and encouraging them throughout the hour.

(see also Fall Fitness Starts with Family Fun Runs)

Take Trips

I bring the boys to the library. With so many books available online now, I want my sons to know and feel the “cool” factor of heading to a library and taking out a book. I love watching them walk around the kids’ area looking for a fun book to read rather than connected to their game machines.

Arrange Play Dates

I set up play dates with their friends and let them come over and run around for a couple of hours after school. My rule is that they can’t watch TV or play video games – they need to go outside and PLAY, actually play! I encourage lemonade stands, tag, hide and go seek, etc. I love seeing my boys running around and having fun with their friends.

(see also The Power of Playgroups)

Hone in On Homework

My sons have homework now when they come home, so it’s something that I like them to get done as soon as possible. I’ve found that when we hold off, the boys become less thrilled to sit down and do it. I love clearing the counter in our kitchen and having my oldest guys sit down and go through their folders with them from school. If my youngest guys don’t have homework, I’ll have them draw pictures for the next day or read a book with them. It’s important for me to make sure everything is done and put back away in their backpacks.

When everything is done and the boys are settled for the night, I’ll let them play games for a bit. The good thing is, since games aren’t something they want to do all day, it’s more of a special treat than something they feel programmed to do. If you’re looking for new activity ideas for your kids, check out the Family Resources section on TogetherCounts.com – they have lots of great ideas. I’m very adamant about my guys doing activities with me and each other, and this is the best way I’ve been able to balance both worlds!

How do you balance family time and digital time?

Audrey McClelland, a social media consultant and brand advocate is the founder of MomGenerations.com, an online destination for mothers. She is the mother of four boys – William (6), Alexander (5), Benjamin (4) and Henry (3). She speaks frequently on the topic of motherhood, fashion/beauty and social media at blogging conferences, Twitter conferences and social media mixers. She lives in Providence, RI with her husband and four sons.