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Managing kids video games time


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If there's another thread for this, by all means point me to it and i'll use that, but I couldn't find one.

 

I have two kids, aged 9 and 6. They've really taken to video games in the last few months. We're allowing them an hour a day each at the moment (well it's an hour a day screen time, and they choose games).

 

If they were playing single player games, that wouldn't be an issue, but if one of them starts a game of Fortnite or PvZ with 5 minutes of the hour to go, it turns into a row. My missus is maybe a bit less understanding than me about the nature of online play....

 

Anyway, do you use any inventive strategies for managing this? Or more generally, how do you manage their video game playing?

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How about creating an understanding that if they over run one day then it gets knocked off the next day and vis versa? Would possibly have the benefit of teaching them time management skills at the same time. 
 

I don’t have and know nothing about kids so if that’s ridiculous then apologies in advance. 

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An hour isn't too long, so why not say they can finish the game, but aren't allowed to start any new ones after the hour mark. Give them the hour warning, and sit and watch them to enforce it. In practice, they'll game it to always get the extra 15 minutes or so, but if you can live with that, it might be a win-win.

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I let mine regulate themselves. It turned out fine, they're 14 and 16 now. On the other hand I have friends that tried to regulate strictly and it became a real point of conflict, arguments, lying and so on. I think the point is to know your own kids, don't necessarily feel you have to treat gaming as a dangerous and unhealthy activity.

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Fortnite at 9 years old? Hmmm. (I'm aware that many parents choose to let their kids play Fortnite under 12, but I thought they were mainly ones who weren't into games themselves! Why do you think that game's fine? I'm not judging, I'm interested because my 7 year old desperately wants to play it and I've told him no way until he's 12, but I may allow him a bit earlier than that if there's a consensus that actually it's fine.)

 

Anyway, you may think I'm a terrible parent, as I will happily let my son play for hours at a time if he's into a game. It's what I used to do!

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Just now, Mr.Crowley said:

I let mine regulate themselves. It turned out fine, they're 14 and 16 now. On the other hand I have friends that tried to regulate strictly and it became a real point of conflict, arguments, lying and so on. I think the point is to know your own kids, don't necessarily feel you have to treat gaming as a dangerous and unhealthy activity.

 

Yeah, I have to confess I just let mine go for it. I have to mediate similar disputes though as they share the PS4.

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I block all online gaming so they can only play local, though it still doesn't stop arguments! 

 

We also allow an hour a day but I can override this with a password. That all works pretty well (Xbox) and 8 year old is pretty respectful of the limits most of the time. He's asking to get on Fortnite though so it's only a matter of time before that nightmare is unleashed. 

 

Sorry, not helpful at all! I feel your pain, and my younger self hates my current self for restricting gaming in the house. 

 

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1 minute ago, SozzlyJoe said:

 

Yeah, I have to confess I just let mine go for it. I have to mediate similar disputes though as they share the PS4.

Yeah, there's some mediation from time to time as our PS4 is in the living room.:D 

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My 13 year old get relaxed limits, which all depend on his attitude towards us and other interests. If he is being pleasant to everyone and engaging with other things, then he gets time without us really stopping him. If he gets to bogged down in games, or his attitude gets worse, then we put more limits on him. Recently he was banned for a week due to the way he was speaking to us. 

There are no hard and fast time rules though, I think that is totally the wrong way to do it. 

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5 minutes ago, Eighthours said:

Fortnite at 9 years old? Hmmm. (I'm aware that many parents choose to let their kids play Fortnite under 12, but I thought they were mainly ones who weren't into games themselves! Why do you think that game's fine? I'm not judging, I'm interested because my 7 year old desperately wants to play it and I've told him no way until he's 12, but I may allow him a bit earlier than that if there's a consensus that actually it's fine.)

 

Anyway, you may think I'm a terrible parent, as I will happily let my son play for hours at a time if he's into a game. It's what I used to do!

 

Personally I have no real issues with my 9 year old playing Fortnite. It's very cartoony. There's no blood at all, if you get shot you are 'warped' away. The guns are a bit real though, if thats is a point of concern. Bit disconcerting to hear your kids discuss the finer points of shotguns. I'm more worried about the microtransactions normalising in-game spending, but that ship has sailed.

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My son is 12 now, he's been playing games since he was about 6 or 7, started off with the Lego games. Until recently, during school time he was only ever allowed to play on weekends and only in the mornings. To be honest that did mean that he would play for hours at a time as he used to get up early, however to be honest it was nice for the wife and I to actually get an opportunity to have a lie in after 7 years of having to get up really early at the weekend! As time has gone on this continued until about half way through this year at school we decided as he was in senior school he would be allowed to play in the week, as long as his music practices and his homework were getting done. Realistically he was only coming home and watching videos of Fortnite on youtube anyway, and I felt that him actually playing the game was a better use of his time.

 

Personally I found it a bit hypocrytical to be telling him he couldn't play games when I am quite happy to play for hours on end given the chance. He's only recently got into Fortnite proper (for a long time it was all about Minecraft, Breath of the Wild and Pokemon games), but it's actually been great over the lockdown period as it means that he gets to spend a decent amount of time actually chatting to his mates, and to be honest I think there is something to be said for the amount of teamwork, cordination, sharing resources etc. that they learn from the game.

 

I think with anything it's about you knowing your child(ren). As long as they have other interests that they are engaged in as well and they are doing what they need to with school work and getting enough exercise then they might as well be playing computer games as opposed to watching children's telly or youtube. Additionally it's only fair that you tell them when there are time limits in place. So for example at the weekends we discuss about what we will do as a family, so if we are going on a long walk or whatever my son knows when he can play and when he has to stop, and what other things he needs to fit in around that. You aren't going to get anywhere if suddenly you walk in and go 'right we're all going for a walk now', that would cause strife if the person was an adult, there is no reason to believe it shouldn't be the same for a child.

 

 

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My kid is 6 and can be a bit obsessive about Animal Crossing. Its mostly pretty sweet but we do keep a fairly tight lid on his time with it... I dunno, my wife is less approving of it than me and it's all dramatically complicated by the lockdown and the psychological/behavioural effect that's had on all of us. I can't work out if controlling access makes him more obsessed or not, but if he had free rein I doubt it he'd put it down for hours (as we've tried that a little bit). 

 

Anyway he's also built a lot of Labo recently, that's been nice. And plays Ring Fit to an amazingly high level. Nothing online yet. We're giving him warnings when time's nearly up and dinner's almost ready and so on, but he's always got "one more thing" he needs to do in AC first and then you see a balloon and oh gotta just sell this, it can be maddening trying to tear him away. An ongoing project.

 

 

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1 hour ago, SozzlyJoe said:

 

Personally I have no real issues with my 9 year old playing Fortnite. It's very cartoony. There's no blood at all, if you get shot you are 'warped' away. The guns are a bit real though, if thats is a point of concern. Bit disconcerting to hear your kids discuss the finer points of shotguns. I'm more worried about the microtransactions normalising in-game spending, but that ship has sailed.

 

Yes, it's the guns more than the visuals, for sure. His mum (my ex-wife) is certainly more militant (lol) about that sort of thing, but I try to be as consistent as I can with her policies when it's not completely ridiculously puritanical.

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1 hour ago, bradigor said:

My 13 year old get relaxed limits, which all depend on his attitude towards us and other interests. If he is being pleasant to everyone and engaging with other things, then he gets time without us really stopping him. If he gets to bogged down in games, or his attitude gets worse, then we put more limits on him. Recently he was banned for a week due to the way he was speaking to us. 

There are no hard and fast time rules though, I think that is totally the wrong way to do it. 

 

My ex recently banned my 7 year old from YouTube indefinitely, because he was watching various personalities like Preston and DanDTM and it was affecting his mood. He was becoming a bit rude, and she thought he was learning this from the YouTubers. Preston, for example, is massively condescending towards his wife a lot, and while this may partly be a joke, a 7 year old is unable to tell the difference. I'm not entirely sure about whether YouTubers can be blamed for a behaviour change, but they are insufferably annoying. The worst part of it, though, is that he has started using Americanisms ('trash'! And he even said 'rout' the other day instead of route) and their use of soft consonants, so for example saying 'budder' instead of butter, which is an actual crime. I must deprogram him from this!

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1 hour ago, SozzlyJoe said:

 

Personally I have no real issues with my 9 year old playing Fortnite. It's very cartoony. There's no blood at all, if you get shot you are 'warped' away. The guns are a bit real though, if thats is a point of concern. Bit disconcerting to hear your kids discuss the finer points of shotguns. I'm more worried about the microtransactions normalising in-game spending, but that ship has sailed.

 

Yeah, pretty much that. There has been some raised eyebrows.

"What's Tac short for?"

"Tactical shotgun, dad"

"oh" 

 

She did her school project on Fortnite and drew a common assault rifle and an epic assault rifle for it. We thought it was funny, but I can see how some parents might be unsettled by it.

 

The MTX are a pain though. We've held firm on only buying the battle pass as that is quite good value, until the other day when she begged for a single skin. She paid for it with her own money, but I certainly told her how much of a waste I thought it was. That will probably not be the end of it, but we'll see. She said a neighbour's kid told her he'd spent €600 on skins. Even if it's a lie, it's an example of how normalised it is to be pissing substantial money away on them. 

 

As for youtube, it's more or less banned as child's entertainment in my house, for many reasons.

 

 

2 hours ago, bridger said:

How about creating an understanding that if they over run one day then it gets knocked off the next day and vis versa? Would possibly have the benefit of teaching them time management skills at the same time. 

 

That's maybe a good idea - we tend to track the time for them, so we should get them to take responsibility. Might buy a kitchen timer or something. 

 

Thanks for the replies, all. Plenty to think about. 

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It’s so difficult, but really is child dependent.
Going off topic now sorry.....

My wife caught me and the 7 year old playing Halo 3 (360) a while ago and went a bit nuts. Asked all the other parents who all said no way....

He loved it so much - was walking around singing the theme tune for months. 
Anyway, I took view that it was old enough to look harmless visually but we pulled it anyway (wife did). 
Now it’s all Mario and Yoshi which has been great, but I think he’s ready for something more exciting. 
I have ODST in a drawer - never touched it and I’m very close to pulling that out. 
Fortnight we’ve avoided completely due to online, micro transactions and well just know it would consume him. 
Our other son - 4yrs old - has been Yoshi and Mario mad for ages. He just gets off when we say and there’s no bother. 

As for YouTube...that has been a saga I can tell ya...why can’t you put a pin on restricted mode FFS!

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I have a five year old. Has about 2 hours screen time a week self chosen never asks to watch anything let alone play games. She has no interest in them and long may that last.  
 

I’d also say I have no interest in playing video games with her, much happier hearing her read, reading to her, drawing, playing etc  

 

Hearing about 6 year olds playing fortnight and the like really worries me - as a teacher I see y7s join us each year who completely hooked and the impact it often has is massive. All the research shows that screen time has a massive detrimental affect on development. 
 

I’m in no way judging and everyone parents in their own way and we’re fairly armish despite me teaching computer science and being a massive geek. I also don’t se it as hypocritical that I play games. I also drink and stay up fairly late and she doesn’t get to do those either. 

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3 hours ago, Eighthours said:

Fortnite at 9 years old? Hmmm. (I'm aware that many parents choose to let their kids play Fortnite under 12, but I thought they were mainly ones who weren't into games themselves! Why do you think that game's fine? I'm not judging, I'm interested because my 7 year old desperately wants to play it and I've told him no way until he's 12, but I may allow him a bit earlier than that if there's a consensus that actually it's fine.)

 

Anyway, you may think I'm a terrible parent, as I will happily let my son play for hours at a time if he's into a game. It's what I used to do!

I stopped Fortnite for my now 10 year old a good while ago as it was making him desperately frustrated. I have banned Apex for a week at a time when I notice it’s getting him riled up. Aside from that, he plays Destiny 2 here and there, Growtopia and Minecraft mainly. An hour a day would be well stingy for him, but it’s different for different kids. Some kids get super worked up playing anything, it really affects them in different ways or to different degrees rather. 
 

Having one hour combined screen time seems awfully harsh but if screen time is having a negative effect on them I totally understand limiting it. 

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I'm similar to others in that I don't set fixed limits. It depends on his behaviour and whether it's stopping him from doing other things. We don't let him play weekday mornings so he mainly plays at the weekends anyway, maybe a few hours but that's his time and he can choose what he does with it to some degree.

 

If prefer them to learn self control really but you always need to have an eye on them.

 

In general though, games are great. Much prefer him doing that than watching TV.

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35 minutes ago, Hass said:

In general though, games are great. Much prefer him doing that than watching TV.

Yeah I agree,  we've got it a bit wrong in our house as we limit time on the Xbox but not on the TV. He does his hour on the xbox and then sits in front of the TV watching stuff he's already seen a million times. Worse, much worse, is that he gets stuck into YouTube - as mentioned by another poster it really impacts behaviour, plus it's  difficult to restrict YouTube beyond the Kids app, which is pretty rubbish. Pre-Covid- which admittedly wasn't long as we only got the Xbox at Christmas - it all balanced out rather nicely but it has been a nightmare when we are both (trying) to work full time along with (trying) to home school.

 

I might drop the Xbox for a Switch, which has games the family can enjoy a bit more and then be more relaxed on time. I'd be perfectly happy with him and his sister playing Mario Kart for a few hours rather than watching ten minutes of YouTube. 

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2 hours ago, sir stiff_one said:

*cough* BULLSHIT *cough*
 

At least make a rudimentary google search before plopping out nuggets like that please.

 

I think bullshit is possibly a bit strong but maybe so is my "all the research" as there has been very very little actual academic research to date.  The most recent study that has been published was by the University of Calgary in January 29 draws a link between development and screen time in 2-5 year olds.  At the moment there are more studies looking at the same thing to follow up on this as while there are links they can't be tied to screen time directly. 

 

As an experienced teacher I can see the impact of screen time on children every day which covers a multitude of issues but one is kids who play lots of games and who in particular started playing games early on.  I have seen it grow as games have moved online and as internet use has become wide spread particularly with smart phones.  

 

This is something I believe strongly about and in my own personal view - check out my confirmation bias, 5 and 6 year olds shouldn't be sat in front of a screen playing video games when there are so many better ways that they could be spending their time.  I'm not some anti technology lucite or old fool but there will be plenty of time for kids to play games when they're older if they want to.  

 

I can also anecdotally compare my own daughter's development where she has had almost no screen time and friends who happily plonk their kids infant of iPads and tvs and this isn't a "my kid is a genius" delusion - trust me I see this at work plenty but a realistic appraisal of how she is getting on compared with peers even in little things like being able to hold attention for a longer period of time.  

 

This is a gaming forum and people will want to probably play games with their kids.  Indeed I have noticed several times posts about how they got people got their kid playing such and such game and I have often thought why would you want that?  I am sure my views will be unpopular and each to their own but speak to some educational psychs, cognitive scientists, SEN departments etc. and see they think. 

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My sister-in-law allows her son's, now 12 and 9, an hour of game time a week, and yells at them when it's time to stop.

 

They're desperate for more, and also for more games - they've only got Fortnight and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.  I lent them Arms some time ago, and was told off by sister-in-law when they started pestering her to buy it.

 

They lived with us until a couple of weeks ago.  I gave the boys a quick tour of all the games that had been in the house, right under their noses, for many years.

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I would have gone absolutely apoplectic with only one hour combined screen time as a child, my main priority would be figuring out some way of circumventing that. It seems awfully strict.

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11 hours ago, Don Rosco said:

If they were playing single player games, that wouldn't be an issue, but if one of them starts a game of Fortnite or PvZ with 5 minutes of the hour to go, it turns into a row. My missus is maybe a bit less understanding than me about the nature of online play....

 

 

I've go a 10 year and an 8 year old. Fortnite is quite a problem over here, as he desperately wants to play it, as all his friends do. I don't mind them playing, they are allowed to play half an hour every day (usually extended to about 40 minutes, they can earn extra 30 minutes by doing household chores etc.) It's never really a problem unless it's Fortnite. Especially the skins etc that you can unlock and which seem to be a massive draw for him. 

 

Things get a bit more complicated as some of his friends (or lets say kids in the neighbourhood) can play for as long as they want, as their parents don't really care. Even playing outside in the sun means taking their mobile phone outside and play there for hours... 

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Difficult one for me as my sons (10&14) live right their Mum. She doesn't really regulate their time - eldest is fine as he has an hour or so and moves onto something else. The youngest though is getting more and more addicted to Fortnite :( It's not only the time but cost too and as time goes on he won't do anything else. When he comes over to me at weekends ALL device play is banned completely and recently he's been going cold turkey and continuously asking on the Sunday when he is going back. 

 

Difficult situation to approach with the Ex as she has them most of the time and with the current COVID situation is working from home looking after them too. Once school work is done Fortnite keeps him quiet.

 

I got recommended an app called Screentime. It's great they can "earn" time credits for jobs that they do etc. Worth a look - it's a sub based service.

 

The Xbox also has great controls for limiting play just make sure that the childs account is set up as a sub account of an adults. You can also control what the child can buy, gift them credit and monitor usage.

 

It's a tough one. I'd be a lot more draconian if I was still living day to day in the same house as my Sons. Might have to chat with the ex at some point about the problem and work around a solution. Just don't want to open a can of worms either. 

 

 

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