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What precautions should I take to make it so my son does not become a games addict as he grows. I know what I have lost playing games for so many years when I was young.

My 4+ year old son (will be 5 in two months) loves to play video games. I am a games addict myself - though casually. I have continued to play games on my mobile, PC and Xbox (mostly on PC). My son inherited this from me and seems like he is little addicted to it because he wants to play games almost all time.

Mostly he plays car games both in my mobile and pc (he loves cars, we buy a new car/toy almost every month) and he asks me to play other games like angry birds, batman, plants vs zombies etc.

I consider it a good thing it is all under control so far. Most of the time when we say "no, this is not the time to play" he listens to us and says "we will play again in the evening or next day morning". He gets mad if we won't allow him to play a few requests in a row. This happens when I am busy with work, my computer or my mobile. I am concerned things will worsen.


When he plays on the PC, I restrict him to play around 20 minutes but he asks me to play other games which can't play. It is the mobile on which he wants to play the whole day. It is not just my phone but he cries to play on my wife's, nephew's and my sister's phones as well. According to my wife and sister he plays more than an hour every day on someone's mobile.

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You did not mention how much time per day does your son spent playing games. Do you have some limit? Are you actually measuring it? Or does it all depend only on whether the computer or mobile is available at the given moment. – Viliam Búr Oct 8 '12 at 11:50
It will only get worse. One day he will be 30 and you'll wonder why he still spends all of his time playing video games instead of going outside to play cricket. – Dave Clarke Oct 8 '12 at 12:13
"instead of going outside to play cricket" but then what? He'd have a debilitating cricket addiction! – DA01 Oct 8 '12 at 16:06
up vote -4 down vote accepted

Though I can no longer provide the citation it has been established that rapid changing video is extraordinarily harmful for children and has been documented to cause and/or aggravate ADD and ADHD. Programs like Yo Gabba Gabba (I hate that show) with it's slow consistent movement is preferable to shows like Baby Einstein with it's rapid changing scenery and topics.

"There's a party in my tummy! So yummy, so yummy!"

Somebody shoot me now.

Bottom line I'd discourage it with extreme prejudice though you'll be in for a s***-storm of emotional blowback. I'm a father of eight, grandfather of three (so far) and I don't envy you the task.

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"Extraordinarily harmful"? Let's see a cite for that. – jpatokal Apr 30 '14 at 5:10
-1: Looking around, I see an awful lot of successful game players over the years, and a lot of conflicting studies that mirror the same ones they applied to books, radio, TV and the automobile, generally blown out of proportion by the papers. – deworde Jun 9 '14 at 19:10
@deworde And having done studies on those TV studies, many were extremely procedurally flawed. The most egregious one didn't control for the laboratory viewing environment (the enforced watching period, the inability to choose the program, the sudden begin and end of watching), yet naively concluded that it was the content of the viewing that caused the increase in child frustration observed after. – Septagon Jun 10 '14 at 21:57
@SevenSidedDie My favourite was the one that gave a child some toys to play with, then put the TV on, and watched their behaviour. The control was not "some other distraction", but just not putting the TV on. Study's Conclusion: TV causes inattentiveness. Other potential conclusion: Kids can be distracted. – deworde Jun 11 '14 at 7:58

I have teenagers. If you want to de-emphasize gaming, you have to provide a compelling alternative that your child will be satisfied participating in. The bad news is, you are going to have to participate actively as well, which means you have to make time away from work or other commitments to devote to your child. At least until your child is old enough to replace you with his own friends. If cricket is the alternative, you'll have to say, "Hey, let's get some friends and go play cricket, instead."

Another tip on the tantrums. Kids go with what works for them. If tantrums get results, they use them. If discussion works, they'll talk. Your best response there might be, "I can see that you're upset about this. We'll discuss it when you have calmed down." And then, ignore him until he calms down.

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When it comes to video games, the main point to keep in mind is that they are not a baby sitter. Just like with artistic expression or physical sports, the important thing is keep engaged with them. If you don't enjoy the games themselves, just listen to the child. If they are having a hard time with a particular spot, just be there for moral support. All a video game is at that age is a toy as any other. It wont cause any more harm or help any more than watching TV or a movie.

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+1: This is really important. If you want your child to respect your opinion about games, they have to believe you know what you're talking about. – deworde Jun 9 '14 at 19:13

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