My son is doing well in school, but we don’t feel he’s challenging himself and we’re not comfortable with the amount of time he spends playing video games. He’s often in his room for hours communicating with his real-life friends who are also playing the same game from home. It’s become his major social outlet. Any advice?

Is 3 Hours Too long to Spend on Video Games?

This is another tough one for parents. When kids are meeting their responsibilities as students, and they’re happy with their online social world, it can be hard for them to see any reason to change. Here’s what we recommend:

1.  Ask your son what he loves about playing his favorite game. In doing so, he will likely share some of the features that keep him hooked.

2.  Share your concerns:

  • Too much time spent on video games takes time away from family, academics, and developing other interests/hobbies
  • Too much time on video games is not good for your health. It can replace
    • Time outdoors and exercise
    • These games are intentionally designed to be addictive so game makers can make more money
      • Thousands of psychologists are advising tech companies on how to use persuasive design to keep you playing

3. Use these resources from Our Parenting Technology Toolkit:

  • Our TimeWise Calculator can help to jumpstart a conversation around how he’s spending his free time:
    • What would he like to do more of?
    • What are his favorite forms of exercise?
    • Who would he like to spend more time with?
  • Our Family Agreement can help to reset expectations: 
    • Invite your son to participate in setting new rules. Consider:
        • Eliminating game playing during the school week
        • Setting a hard stop 1 hour before bedtime
        • Using an oversized timer as a visual cue to help your son decide whether he should start another game if his time is almost up

Here are some Gold Star Articles from Our Collection for further reading:

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