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My 9-year-old has been off of all technology for many months, and finally earned it back. He gets to play a 1/2 hour a day on my old iPod Touch.

Ending this time has always been stressful, and generally ends with me grabbing it long after he's supposed to give it to me (I just just just just just...), and him being angry that I'm not being fair or mean for grabbing it.

Then of course I feel like he shouldn't be using it, and that just increases the pressure on both of us.

I give him a ten and five minute warning, and end by spending a couple minutes looking at what he's done (usually MineCraft). Then it gets rocky.

Any tips on how to deal with this situation better would be appreciated. First thing I'm going to do differently is spend a full five minutes watching him before taking it (at the five minute warning).

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    Minecraft is a creative game sutable for adults as well as children, some families even hevere there own server playground where thay can share there creative energies in the game. I have been reading about this Minecraft and other games so that I can join in the fun and games. here is my favorite bookmark on minecraft minemum.com/minecraft-parent-problems :) – Kári Gunnarsson Aug 20 '15 at 23:03
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    Have you ever tried to play a game for 30 minutes? Unless its something incredibly simple he probably cant start and finish the game in that amount of time. Maybe try giving him time chunks in hour increments. Also someone below mentioned an automatic time lockout, that's a great way to go. – user7678 Aug 21 '15 at 10:53
  • Have an egg timer with a one minute countdown and an alarm. Children don't have much concept of time and a five minute warning is going to be meaningless even if he can see a clock. – DanBeale Aug 22 '15 at 13:15
  • @Gunnarsson It's a good point. I think a digital countdown timer will make it clearest. – aliteralmind Aug 22 '15 at 13:16
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The easiest way is probably to set a time limit lock using guided access. In Guided Access, which can have a different passcode lock than the main passcode lock, you go to the Time Limits section and enable that. The main downside is that it only allows them to be in one app - they can't swap apps. This is an iOS 8 feature, also, not sure if your iPod would have it.

However, a better solution exists that's been around for many more iOSs, which is also not part of Guided Access (so allows him to do whatever app-wise). That's to use the sleep timer.

  1. Start the timer app (part of the clock app).
  2. Select "When Timer Ends", and choose "Stop Playing" (which is at the very bottom).

Now, when the timer goes off, it will just return the phone/ipod to its lock screen. You must have a lock enabled, and your son must not know the combination of course. He might still be annoyed about the time limit, but you don't have to rip it from his hands; it just stops working.

Of course, this doesn't teach him why he should stop playing, and I always advocate that as part of anything like this - so please have those conversations as well.

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  • I cannot believe I never heard of this before! I guess "Stop playing" isn't the clearest description of what it does. One additional thing you have to do in order for this to work, is to set passcode lock to "immediately". You actually have to enter your passcode in order to even see this setting. – aliteralmind Aug 20 '15 at 22:46
  • I'm using the sleep timer idea. This is an eight-year-old Touch with iOS 5. – aliteralmind Aug 20 '15 at 22:48
  • I'm keeping the actual timer secret from him, of course. I'm also encouraging him to set as many timers as he needs--in a different timer app he knows--to know it's coming. – aliteralmind Aug 20 '15 at 22:58
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    I recommend if you only want him to be playing for thirty minute intervals, steer away from more involved games like Minecraft, and more towards games that are designed to be played in short intervals. Candy Crush, Bejewelled, and Angry Birds are examples of such games. It's very frustrating to be torn away from a game when you feel like you're just getting started, much easier to put down when the game has designed breaks every ten minutes or so. – user14172 Aug 21 '15 at 15:20
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I think I have to agree with MINEMUN

There are a lot of things about Minecraft that make it a really worthwhile game for kids to play, and the areas where most families run into problems are easily fixable.

But there's really no getting around the fact that it's a game that requires parents to be involved if they want the experience to go smoothly for their kids. So if you don't want to do that - if you can't bring yourself to learn about the game or put in the time to supervise, sort out problems, keep them safe on multiplayer servers and prevent their obsession from becoming unhealthy - then Minecraft isn't the right game for your family.

Minecraft is a creative game, and I am on the creative end my self. When I am feeling creative, then I like to work for hours to get a creative release. And that brings me to Delayed Gratification and trust exercises within the family. I would offer your son the option to play for the day rate of 30 min or to allow him to save up to a full day of creative work, collecting the weeks worth of playtime for a full Saturday of Minecraft, doubling up on the time allowance for saved time as a treat for the Delayed gratification exercises. So for every half hour day during work days is a full hour is lost from the Saturday. .. Then I would offer a trade in for a full Saturday for other activity every other week or so, or some other system like that. But this will of-course depend upon my own availability to be part of the game and also the use of timers like other answers have mentions.

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It seems you had the right approach by giving warnings, maybe use some visual help with a timer for example ? That way he can know anytime what time he has left.

I'm also thinking maybe 30 minutes might just be too short for him to enjoy the game at all ? I never played Minecraft so I couldn't tell... Being 9, you should be able to discuss the matter a bit with him and if that's the issue, an alternative might be to allow him 3,5 hours a week and let him handle this time bank. he may find out that 1 hour each 2-days is much more enjoyable, and that opens the door to other activity on the other day. Together with you if you have some time would be even better...

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    Great idea, giving him a time budget. We've decided on five hours a week, with 45 minutes at most on school nights, but otherwise he can use it as he likes. And unused time carries over into the next week. He's a strong negotiator. Between this and the technical idea in the accepted answer, I'm feeling hopeful. – aliteralmind Aug 22 '15 at 3:41
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    Be careful about letting him carry over unused time into the next week, or you may find yourself in a week in which he has twenty hours of saved gaming time -- and sits down to start using it! A better option would be to let it carry over at a rate of 50% from the previous week, 25% from the week before that, etc. Still possible to build up an alarming amount of non-stop video game time, but less likely, and less incentive to do so. – Ossum's Mom Aug 28 '15 at 21:01
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With my son I made it simple, every time he threw a tantrum about coming off it was a 2 day ban.

I gave him a 2 min warning to get to a safe space, end of round etc. When time was up and he threw a strop I removed the device from him (no discussion just turned it off), left him tantruming then it was a 2 day ban.

All it needed was a reminder after that.

He was pre-warned this is what would happen.

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  • Outside the box. I like it. – aliteralmind Jan 2 '19 at 15:06

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