Thursday, January 20, 2011

"But what will he do instead?"

When I discuss setting limits on access to the internet and video gaming with parents, the vast majority recognize limits are needed. However, when the discussion shifts to "How much time is too much time?" most parents become overwhelmed  because they can't see what the alternative is to being "plugged in."

Understandably, parents ask: "What will my child do INSTEAD of being on the net or gaming?"  The short answer is: "Anything outdoors!" Such as, hiking, walking, biking, swimming, gardening, washing the car, walking the dog, painting the fence, building a bird bath, collecting sea shells, flying a kite, fishing, sledding, boogie boarding, building sand castles, catching frogs, and so on and so forth.

It is crucial to understand up front that NO activity will replace the pleasue derived from the net or gaming. So, the challenge is introducing options/choices that will be rejected as boring (because they are boring relative to the net and gaming). But parents have to get past this comparison (between electronic pleasure and non electromic pleasure) and begin to etsablish new routines and patterns that will improve fitness, social skills, and provide options for increased self-esteem.

As has been suggested in previous posts, begin by gathering data. For a priod of one week, log every minute your child/teens in "plugged in." After you know what your baseline number is (20 hours, 30 hours, or more per week) then you can begin to fashion a cut down plan. You might start with media free days or media free zones (e.g., no internet or gaming Sunday through Thursday). One change is always a good idea: no computers or gaming systems in a child/teen's bedroom.

The key is to take back control of access to computers and gaming systems and there are various ways to do this -- which depend on your child/teen and your family. For more information on how to set limits, check out Video Games and Your Kids (by Hilarie Cash and Kim McDaniel).

Or, feel free to contact me at this blog or via phone: 310/287-1640.

No comments:

Post a Comment