My son is 15 years old and plays video games all the time. His grades are quite low now. I already tried a couple of things like rewarding him when he is studying, but with no effect.

I heard of an application that uses video game content in his studies. For example, instead of the generic practical exercise, it includes video game elements from real games. For example, there is an exercise about physics that uses a dragon falling from the sky and it asks to calculate the force air does in the dragon bodY (the dragon being a real dragon from a game he knows)

Do you think this a good approach? Would you try something different?

  • Start with something as simple as luminosity for 20 minutes a day... his muscle memory is deteriorating playing video games all day but his focus and reaction times have improved I'm sure... luminosity is both rewarding, Challenging and fun at the same time... it may also be that his teachers are complacent and he needs a different one on one approach to stay connected and excel... Khan academy is a great place to start, he can advance quick and with ease one on one... so when he gets to school he feels successful and empowered to learn what's next...
    – hello moto
    Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 11:26
  • Just remember, nothing happens over night... Never say you're going to work on this for 1 to 2 hours everyday until you know it... Instead start with 20 minutes a day and work up from there with 5 minute intervals
    – hello moto
    Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 11:28
  • familiesmanagingmedia.com/…
    – hello moto
    Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 11:55

4 Answers 4


We have tried academic context driven games for our kids before... and to be honest... they hated it. They don't get the same reinforcement / joy from that as they do from the games they like to play... In this house they play minecraft, roblox, fortnite, etc... most of the games they play involve some sort of social interaction with other gamers on-line... so it is at least in part a piece of their social lives... which I just didn't grow up with... BUT I DID grow up with a landline phone glued to my ear. LOL. And sometimes I would get involved in a book or series that I couldn't put down.

I'd have to ask a BUNCH more questions to know if your son is exhibiting true addictive behavior or not... Here's a link to a great list of how you can figure out if that's true or not https://addictionresource.com/addiction/video-game-addiction/ Alcoholism runs in our family on both sides... so we are super careful when talking about behaviors and in particular if they are being used to mask discomfort or avoid challenges that come with life.

When my daughter was really struggling with her grades last year we had a chat about how the grades made her feel... and what her own personal goals looked like. We asked her how we could support her in getting her work done and agreed on turning off the wifi access to her phone and computer until after a designated time. She also began doing some of her work in my husbands office as being near him (working) helped her stay focused. There were also times when she would have an assignment due and I would ask her how much time she thought she would need to get it done... and we would do check ins at pre-appointed times for the various levels of the assignment so that she could hold herself accountable to her time management.

We just always make sure they understand we are there to support them and help them be successful in their goals... that they don't feel they are doing it to satisfy our requirement or expectation. (Though they do know that getting an education and putting in effort is something we value... it doesn't define them... if that makes sense)...

When I feel like they are just getting TOO reclusive and not getting enough f2f time irl I will go up to them and say, "I really miss spending time with you... Would you be willing to take a break and come for a walk with me..." or play a game with me... or go shopping with me... etc... 90% of the time they are excited to take a break.

Our general rule of thumb here is so long as grades and chores get done... we don't really restrict access to gaming... but when they are struggling with that... we have to rethink how we are managing things... It's always a collaboration and their feelings/wants/needs are taken into consideration.

Good luck!

  • 1
    kudos for teaching your children "time management"!
    – elbrant
    Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 2:53

I think this could be a good approach for some kids. I would never say "study shouldn't be fun, no gamification ever!" But on the other hand if you're dealing with a legitimate addiction (rather than just a teen who would prefer to play games over study), then that sounds like at best harm reduction, and at worse contributing to the problem. Something like giving a picky eater veggies hidden in a pizza sauce and fruits in the form of strawberry ice cream. There's some nutritional value in that, but it's healthier and more beneficial in the long term to gently get a child to adjust to trying new foods and eating things other than sweets and pizza. Your son may need guidance in learning to sometimes do things he doesn't prefer more than a technological 'out' from ever having to face a moment of 'non-fun'.

If your son has a genuine addition to gaming, medical or therapeutic intervention might be appropriate. If he just doesn't enjoy studying, I think a combined tactic of the app (so he hopefully discovers that he can enjoy learning) and tough love is in order. He is becoming an adult very soon at this point, and being an adult means sometimes doing things that aren't pure fun. This is a crucial time for him to learn important skills of taking responsibility for his own actions, delaying gratification, and exercising judgement in choosing how to use his time.

Look at this as a problem to solve together, you and your not-too-far-from-adult: Let him know your expectations about completing schoolwork, and ask how you can support him in making that happen. Be clear that not studying isn't an option, but he does have options as to when, how, and what tools he uses to get that done. Let him know without judgement the consequences of not completing his responsibilities, for example not getting into his preferred college.

It may be appropriate to use apps that limit non-educational video gaming time, or only give him the wi-fi password each evening once homework is complete, but the goal should be for him to develop the ability to regulate his own use of technology by the time he leaves home as a young adult, so work with him to find a fair way to balance his reasonable responsibilities with pleasure and leisure.


I am not a parent, but I have first-hand experience of being addicted to video games and getting through it as a teenager.

I. Video game addiction is a very real thing. Whether your child is already addicted or not, though, the following advice applies if you want to reduce his time in front of the computer.

II. The real cause of the addiction (or just playing for too much) is not the game itself, although some games are more addictive and hence more harmful than others. The game is a place where your child attempts to hide from the world outside.

III. Therefore, the first thing you have to do is treating your son's problems that lead to playing too much, not the symptoms (actually playing games). Get a therapist for your son. There are several very important caveats here:

  1. It's probably not going to be cheap. But the consequences of being addicted will, in the long run, cost you and your son a lot more than good therapy, and the need for treatment will still persist.
  2. It's probably not going to solve the problem instantly, or even to show any significant improvements instantly. This problem didn't build up for just one month, and it won't go away in one week.
  3. Your son might not think that he has a problem, and not want to cooperate. You need to have a calm, peaceful conversation with him about this issue: ask the counsellor you find for details, since I am not a professional here. Anyway, before your son realises that something is wrong, you are probably not going to go far from where you currently are.

  4. The counsellor might give you and/or your son some guidelines, but most part of the work will be done by you and your son, not the specialist you hire for help. You will need to follow those guidelines if you wish to overcome your problems.

IV. Find alternatives. There are many fun and useful things that a teenager can do instead of playing computer games. For example, when I started attending fencing classes at the age of thirteen, where I could swing a real sword against other real people, doing this twice a week made playing most computer games just boring. Likewise, laser tag immerses you into action a lot deeper than any shooter game can. Switching to tabletop role-playing games like D&D will at least make your son go outside and communicate with real people instead of characters from his games. Countless things: tennis, football, historical reenactment, horse riding, photography, hiking, cycling, skiing...

Even if something like this doesn't completely remove your son's interest in computer games, the amount of time they spend gaming is likely to drop.

The alternatives you find and present should not be forced upon your child. Instead, suggest them and let him make the final decision.

V. If all or most of his social activities happen online, he will definitely need new social contacts. Especially if they are all related to video games.

VI. His problems at school might be a consequence of many more factors than just playing for too long. My grades didn't improve after I had stopped playing for 18 hours a day. Instead of studying some "boring and useless" stuff, I would usually do something else, be it spending time with a friend, reading a book or watching a movie.

However, a good counsellor should be able to treat those problems too.

Also, no, studying is not going to become his alternative to gaming, because games are designed to be fun, and studying, sadly, is not, though it could be.

VII. Educational computer games are usually very boring, not fun, and hence won't help you. And, when he sees that it doesn't help, he will be a little bit less likely to cooperate with you.

VII. Neither will your problems be solved by accusing and shaming him. Out of guilt, he might stop playing for, say a week... and then start hiding the fact that he started playing computer games again. You probably don't need this, aye?

VIII. Treat your son as an adult, not as a child. Fifteen years is a point where many methods of parenting either don't work, or do more harm than good. It's a hard age: your son often behaves like a child, you treat him like a child, it sounds logical to you. But what he needs is learning to behave like an adult, and when the whole world treats you like a child and tells you that you are a child, there is no way to learn.

For example, the first temptation might be to just restrict video games. You could install parent control programs, just forbid him from playing, or even remove his computer, perhaps along with any other multimedia devices.

This won't help, though. Your son will find ways to cheat and play stealthily. He will bypass your parent control program, find a friend to come to to play computer, play from school's, use his smartphone or another device to play, etc. What is more, the problems that lead him to playing games will stay. And he will need to overcome them -- albeit later, perhaps after ruining his career and social life as an actual adult, rather than now, as a teenager, when mistakes don't cost much.

Your son is younger than you are, and he is a lot more kin on technical stuff. He grew with it, and the odds are, you didn't. Even if you win this competition, the very fact of it happening will damage your relationship and make it hard for you to help him overcome his addiction. Or to help him at all, with anything. You have more life experience, but, unless you are an IT specialist (which you could be, considering that you came to Stack Exchange), he is most likely smarter than you when it comes to computers.


I have been solving this problem for the last 10 years (multiple kids) by having the Wifi in our house forcibly turn off at certain times. 10 years ago I did it by hacking the Linux Kernel on my router, but today it's super easy to do on your phone with a modern router like this. My wife's a pediatrician so she helped me with setting the schedules.

Here are my current summer WIFI settings:

  • 9am-1pm - Free for all
  • 1pm-5pm - No electronics under any circumstances. I don't care if there's a fire and you're trying to figure out how to stop it. Go out and make a friend who has WIFI.
  • 5p-11pm - Electronics only if you're learning something new, writing a book, something constructive

During the school year:

  • 3pm-7pm - Wifi only after you've completed all non-computer based homework
  • 7pm-9pm - Free for all
  • 9pm-6am - Wifi off.

These rules don't apply to me & my wife's devices, just the kids. During the school year, the weekend follows the summer schedule. This schedule is SUPER relaxed. It gives the kids double the recommended screen time recommended by the AAP. They won't like it at first, but fighting them to get off of screens on a daily basis is not a battle you'll win. They need to be forced off.

  • How old are your kids? What makes you sure that they don't bypass your rules somehow, e.g. by playing computer games elsewhere or when you don't see? Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 4:28
  • My kids are 10, 12 & 20 (the oldest is off on his own in college). I'm personally fine if my kids run off to the neighbor's house to play games. That requires social interaction and co-operative decision making. If my kids can crack through my firewall, they deserve some extra game time. That's the best case scenario :-). There are games that don't require Wifi, such as Minecraft. That's tougher to regulate. Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 17:23

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