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Managing kids video games time


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My kid (5) has got very into games during lockdown, and seeing his hand eye coordination improve has been staggering. From seeing him struggle through Green Hill Zone in Feb to seeing him now zooming through Oil Ocean is incredible.

 

Thing is, we have had to just let him get on with it a lot of the time. I've been working every day since Corona, and whilst the wife has been at home, she has the same workload and meetings. 

 

We play together a lot too. Minecraft Dungeons has been a big hit. I don't want to count screen time hours, just try to vary things too. Sometimes he will ignore the xbox all day and mess around with lego or play in the garden, yet other times it will be all he wants to do. That's okay though, it's his life. Sometimes we do step in of course. We make sure that we all exercise together and go for a walk every day.

 

The other thing that has come on loads is his reading. He wants to know the name of the different levels and mobs so it has been a great way of encouraging him through boring home learning.

 

We had a (socially distanced) meet on the beach with his class at school yesterday and he seemed so happy, bright and upbeat that I'm not really too worried about the dreaded screen time. I think that being emotionally there for your children, having proper conversations with them and respecting them as human beings is much more important in determining their mental state than playing videogames.

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12 hours ago, sir stiff_one said:

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. 

 

Fortnite was banned completely in our flat too. For the same reasons. Despite the MTX being 'cosmetic only' the game was geared towards wanting more and more of them to be part fo the 'cool crowd' and I could see my son's growing frustrations and lashing out. 

On the whole he will spend as much time playing other games and his attitude is miles better. He still has moments where his attitude sucks along with other behaviours, but that is also mixed with ADHD and hitting puberty. If he plays Minecraft, Rocket League,  Brawlhalla, Call of Duty, then he is fine for the most part. With us restricting when needed as a way to show a poor attitude means there are consequences. 

 

One thing it has never affected is his school work or his ice hockey, he will always put those first without prompting. 

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My daughter (9 next month) loves games and plays daily but my wife wishes she could’ve enforced a blanket ban.


This is despite the fact that the games she has been playing in lockdown are Animal Crossing, Just Dance and Ring Fit Adventure. She’s actually active for most of her playing time!

 

I’ve just used common sense with her. Pre lockdown she played a lot of organised sport and is desperate to get back to it. If she’s being active outdoors more than she’s playing games I’m happy.

 

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10 hours ago, Bangaio said:

 

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. 

You’re the one making spurious claims so it’s up to you to go do that last part.

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10 hours ago, Bangaio said:

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.  

 

On the flip side, my daughter (3) spends time on the Phone / Tablet / DS / Switch / Xbox and her vocabulary and general understanding of things, along with her dexterity and had / eye co-ordination is so far ahead of where my son (now 13) was at the same age. None of this stuff was as readily available to him and we tried to do the whole 'no screen time' thing when he was young. 

In fact, during lockdown, where the devices have been babysitters for us more than we'd like*, we've seen her development increase drastically. She is showing an eagerness to do team sports (football and ice hockey) and understands the concept of them, because she watches them on her tablet regularly. As well as previously being around it. It not the wanting to do them, it is the understanding and how to communicate that with us. 

 

Her problem solving too, is far ahead of her brother's and from what my Mum says, ahead of anything I or my siblings were capable of at the same age. She is not unique either, there are many other kids her age who are more advanced for their age, then we ever were. 

* It is what it is and no one is better than anyone else, because they take the easy way out at times. There is a reason many kids are 'plonked' in front of screens. 
 

 

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15 minutes ago, jonny_rat said:

The other big consideration that I think changes the screen time debate is relative risk. How much more risky is greater screen time than other activities? One comparison I saw was that it's about as increased a risk as having a diet that included potatoes. Although any nuanced discussion of relative risk needs to look at the combined risk of eating potatoes AND screen time, of course.. but the message is that screen time (and games) are best managed as part of an overall pattern of risk and behaviour, with no good evidence that it has a worse impact on children's lives than many of the other behaviours we encourage without even thinking about it. We have to look at how things like Fortnite and Roblox have been used in the last few months: for some children they've been their main channel for socialising with their friends.

 

I was curious about this. I don't have kids but maybe I might one day, and funnily enough this issue of protecting them from the internet or too much screen time is the biggest fear of parenting right now! But my take, for what it's worth (nothing) is that surely 'screen time' is an all encapsulating phrase.  But there's a difference between them watching, I don't know, PewDiePie on their own vs playing a nice point and click adventure with the rest of the family. 

 

I say that last one because one of my most cherished video gaming memories is playing Monkey Island with my mum, dad and sister. That was me spending 'hours' playing video games but it's not the same as fortnight. I remember playing hours of Speedball 2 and my parents rightly telling me off, because I was getting so frustrated I ended up punching a monitor. That was an extreme case I think.  But I think the game in question is significant, and I'd imagine possibly also that there's a bit of a variety. If they're playing one game endlessly and exclusively, I don't know if that's bad but it feels like a shame. 

 

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5 minutes ago, cowfields said:

 

I was curious about this. I don't have kids but maybe I might one day, and funnily enough this issue of protecting them from the internet or too much screen time is the biggest fear of parenting right now! But my take, for what it's worth (nothing) is that surely 'screen time' is an all encapsulating phrase.  But there's a difference between them watching, I don't know, PewDiePie on their own vs playing a nice point and click adventure with the rest of the family. 

 

I say that last one because one of my most cherished video gaming memories is playing Monkey Island with my mum, dad and sister. That was me spending 'hours' playing video games but it's not the same as fortnight. I remember playing hours of Speedball 2 and my parents rightly telling me off, because I was getting so frustrated I ended up punching a monitor. That was an extreme case I think.  But I think the game in question is significant, and I'd imagine possibly also that there's a bit of a variety. If they're playing one game endlessly and exclusively, I don't know if that's bad but it feels like a shame. 

 

 

Yep, exactly this. The research - and conversation around games in general - needs to have a better understanding of the types of benefit: the shared-experience type socialising you've described here, the online socialising that's going to become more prevalent as the world changes, direct learning (eg maths skills, learning facts), indirect learning (creative skills from Minecraft, problem solving, etc), relaxation and mood benefits, etc.

 

The Speedball 2 case is probably crucial as well! Frustration and anger as a negative outcome. Should we shield younger players from those? Obviously they're a core part of the Fortnite experience and I think that's where a lot of parents' worry about it comes from.

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This is again anecdotal, but when I went to Uni, I met this guy who was a rugby nut. His parents pushed him so hard all through his childhood to be the next Will Carling. His room in halls of residence was full of shelves of protein shakes. He'd never played videogames or watched much TV as he was too busy with the team or studying. Every conversation always seemed to end up with some form of "you've never played Mario / seen Star Wars / Jurassic Park wtf man??"

 

Anyway, within a year of having any semblance of freedom to choose, this guy just sat around smoking pot all day gaming. With hindsight it was clear that there was some form of media Streisand effect going on and by the end of year 2 he'd dropped out of pretty much everything, but he knew every single 10 move combo in Tekken 2.

 

Last I heard of him he was juggling in a circus. Interesting dude.

 

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1 hour ago, jonny_rat said:

Eg: household income - this impacts access to devices but also then impacts access to quality of apps and games available. With less money available for purchases children are shuttled towards FTP games, which are often a mess of dark patterns, microtransactions, pushy notifications, and terrible ethical practices overall.

 

FTP games on mobile are often absolutely fucking horrendous in their practices. I'm pretty surprised that the App Store and Google Play Store don't have hard and fast rules for this stuff (although I suppose the gatekeepers are directly profiting from it), or if they do then they certainly aren't effective. The user experience in so many FTP apps is genuinely terrible, massively cynical, and predatory in the extreme. And that's coming from the point of view of an adult - it's easy to see how kids can be sucked into 'accidentally' spending loads of money on their parents' cards if they gain the required password.

 

Special shout out to Roblox on Xbox here - the sheer number of 'buy currency' pop-ups in that thing are mind-boggling. I think that much of it is prompted by the creators of the individual games, but that's no excuse for Ubisoft. 

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@Bangaio Careful not to get dragged in to cause and effect confusion. Because you see struggling child = games player, that does not mean that games player causes struggling child. Games playing may actually be helping.

 

Your post triggered me unfortunately and probably highlights the biggest issue I have with most schools, which is attitude toward students with learning difficulties/mental health issues/who are on the autism spectrum.

 

That child who is bleery eyed, late to school or disruptive might be using games as a method of distraction and escapism from their life. Limiting screen time and further stigmatisation of their interests will only further isolate them and harm them. Ask them about their gaming, engage with them about it, just like any other interest that a student has. I read yesterday (possibly apocraful) that Jimmy Hendrick used to carry a broom around with him all day at school pretending to have a guitar, because he didn't have a guitar. The school, concerned about his mental health, campaigned to buy him a guitar. Be that school, not the school that would suspend him for carrying around a broom all day.

 

Personally, as a parent, I take whatever my daughter shows an interest in and help her develop her interest to the fullest, supporting her and engaging with her. For her, it isn't games, but currently art and swimming. Tomorrow might be something else.

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Lots of talk of the way that something like Fortnite can cause frustration, but used properly it can be a good opportunity to sit down with your child and have a discussion about coping mechanisms that will be useful to them in life. We all get frustrated as adults and our ability to deal with that (or not) has been built up through our life. My son used to get really frustrated at points with Fortnite, but he now appreciates that feeling and is able to play a different mode, a different game, or just walk away and do something else entirely. He's then been able to use that when doing school work that he is finding frustrating to either move onto another question and come back to it, or just take a break and come back refreshed.

 

To be honest though I'm a terrible example when it comes to getting frustrated with a game (as @Kryptonian would be able to attest to having to put up with me yelling profanities down the mic while playing Halo on a regular basis).

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2 hours ago, jonny_rat said:

Eg: household income - this impacts access to devices but also then impacts access to quality of apps and games available. With less money available for purchases children are shuttled towards FTP games, which are often a mess of dark patterns, microtransactions, pushy notifications, and terrible ethical practices overall.

 

This is something that had never occurred to me before. Really interesting.

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Screen time in lieu of parenting is bound to be detrimental.

 

Active screen time (chatting about what is going on, taking an interest in what they like about what they are watching) is beneficial.

 

It's the same with anything (books, jigsaws etc). If the child is loved and noticed and involved and interacted with, it's fine. If it's left alone for hours with them as a carer substitute then it's not.

 

 

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What does screen time in lieu of parenting mean? 
 

Kids need their own mental space and time away from their parents, and whether that’s doing a puzzle or reading or gaming or watching something, there is no ‘bound to be detrimental’ there. I might just as well say helicopter parenting is bound to be detrimental. There are so many nuances that catch all statements like that are both generally inaccurate and likely to rile people up. 
 

It’s ok for kids to be bored, it’s ok for them to play games alone, with parents, and so on. If you know your own child, you’re in a good position to be able to put suitable restrictions. 

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2 minutes ago, Horribleman said:

Screen time in lieu of parenting is bound to be detrimental.

 

Active screen time (chatting about what is going on, taking an interest in what they like about what they are watching) is beneficial.

 

It's the same with anything (books, jigsaws etc). If the child is loved and noticed and involved and interacted with, it's fine. If it's left alone for hours with them as a carer substitute then it's not.

 

 

Sometimes I have no choice to use TV as a ‘care substitute’ otherwise I’d not be able to make lunch or dinner or get the baby to nap or do my online counselling sessions. One of the times I insisted I wouldn’t put CBeebies on while I went into the kitchen to unpack the shopping in about 30 seconds I had my back turned he managed to climb onto and fall off a chair and pushed his front tooth up into his gum. Taking your son to have it removed and holding him down while he screams hysterically over the giant needles being stuck in his gum is no fun. That was two years ago and I still think why the hell didn’t I just put CBeebies on for half an hour. The other day I took the baby into another room to dress her and he’d liked all the sofa cushions up sat on them and immediately fell off and bashed his head onto the wooden floor and really hurt himself. He can’t be left it he’ll do something silly and he refuses to ply on his own. I usually deal with him by being out as long as possible but of course lockdown has put paid to that. 
 

I must admit threads like this make me feel even crappier parent than I do usually.

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I always wonder if people have children who just behave better or are easier or more likely to do what you ask or happy to play alone. Arthur is just relentless - constant chatter and jumping and bouncing and crashing and fiddling. From 5am til 7pm. Some days I can’t stand it! 

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All children are different, which is why it's about knowing what works for YOUR child, not your friend's child or some random on the internet's child. Especially as there is so much that is different with how you deal with a 5 yo, and how you would deal with a 15 yo.

 

Which is why blanket statements about what a terrible thing screen time is aren't really helpful to anyone, primarily because most people don't agree about what they mean by screen time.

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I know some of Arthur’s screen time is ‘bad’ I suppose - I don’t mind him watching Izzys toy time or a bit of Axel on YouTube. At least those guys don’t shill shitty products. He used to watch quite a bit of Ryan’s World until I couldn’t stand the constant advertising of awful plastic toot.
 

He loves Lego so I don’t mind him watching videos of Lego being built. As long as it doesn’t have what he calls ‘weird hairy hands’. :D

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Getting slightly off the topic but there is nothing worse for a child than a parent who resents it. Parents also need to have a break now and again from their child(ren) to regroup, and assuming the child(ren) are in a safe situation, ultimately that is going to be better for them in the long run.

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13 minutes ago, Laine said:

Sometimes I have no choice to use TV as a ‘care substitute’ otherwise I’d not be able to make lunch or dinner or get the baby to nap or do my online counselling sessions. One of the times I insisted I wouldn’t put CBeebies on while I went into the kitchen to unpack the shopping in about 30 seconds I had my back turned he managed to climb onto and fall off a chair and pushed his front tooth up into his gum. Taking your son to have it removed and holding him down while he screams hysterically over the giant needles being stuck in his gum is no fun. That was two years ago and I still think why the hell didn’t I just put CBeebies on for half an hour. The other day I took the baby into another room to dress her and he’d liked all the sofa cushions up sat on them and immediately fell off and bashed his head onto the wooden floor and really hurt himself. He can’t be left it he’ll do something silly and he refuses to ply on his own. I usually deal with him by being out as long as possible but of course lockdown has put paid to that. 
 

I must admit threads like this make me feel even crappier parent than I do usually.

Don't get me wrong. I'm talking about when people don't interact at all with their kids and just plainplonk them down with tablet. Using it when you need to have ten minutes is fine! 

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It’s more like over an hour at a time to be honest. Baby won’t sleep alone Arthur won’t leave her alone if I try and do it in the same room. She sleeps for 90 minutes! It’ll go on in the morning if he’s been up through the night and awake singing at the top of his voice from 5am. See, terrible parenting! 

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8 minutes ago, Laine said:

It’s more like over an hour at a time to be honest. Baby won’t sleep alone Arthur won’t leave her alone if I try and do it in the same room. She sleeps for 90 minutes! It’ll go on in the morning if he’s been up through the night and awake singing at the top of his voice from 5am. See, terrible parenting! 

 

Please don't think you're a terrible parent for this sort of thing.

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My daughter is pretty much unmonitored and has been for years. She is 12 soon but has always been fairly responsible and hates breaking rules because she gets big band from things she loves. :lol:

 

She's a good girl though. We just always maintain a dialogue if she wants to do something. 

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4 minutes ago, Rex Grossman said:

 

Please don't think you're a terrible parent for this sort of thing.

 

12 minutes ago, metallicfrodo said:

That's not terrible parenting that is adapting to your specific situation.

Thanks! I know deep down I’m not at all! Just being melodramatic today after a very fraught long walk this morning.
He’s just such hard work and I do feel a lot of guilt as he’s a wonderful kid. Of course I’d love not to rely on it so much! But he is who he is I guess. Sorry I’m kind of dragging this off topic - I should whinge in the parenting thread!

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@Laine, I know how you feel. Kids went out for an hour just now so I could record the podcast. Already they have been relentless since getting in, that I am letting them play whatever so I can get some other bits done. During recent months this has been happening more and more. You just need to deal with things in the best way possible. 

Lucas is pretty good at finding things to do, but Edith is non-stop and doesn't stop talking to me, or bothering her brother. So yeah, screens are great to distract her. 

Makes me look like a shit parent, but all I can say is don't judge yourself based on others. 

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I don’t think using the last couple of months as a guide is fair really. Everyone’s normal routine here has been flipped and at the moment we have to compromise and do the best we can. For us this has meant increased gaming and YouTube time which isn’t ideal but both parents are working and have to balance what we can.
 

With time limits I use the one more game strategy rather than x minutes as that works better for all concerned. The other plus side is that we’ve set up voice comms for them so they are talking to friends they haven’t seen since March otherwise - they’ll sit in fortnite creative mode chatting and playing hide n seek.

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35 minutes ago, Laine said:

It’s more like over an hour at a time to be honest. Baby won’t sleep alone Arthur won’t leave her alone if I try and do it in the same room. She sleeps for 90 minutes! It’ll go on in the morning if he’s been up through the night and awake singing at the top of his voice from 5am. See, terrible parenting! 

Not terrible! Don't be daft. You can't do two things at once with kids.

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My 14 year old has 2 hours of Xbox during the week, and 3 at the weekend.

 

I don't mind if he goes on the PC when Xbox time runs out, as long as he's done a bit of school work and taken the dog for a walk.

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