Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How can I limit my preschooler's ( 3 to 4 year old child's ) video-game playing time?

Douglas Gentile
developmental psychologist
Some experts think children under the age of 3 shouldn't even be playing computer or video games, that they're better off playing with more hands-on and less abstract toys, such as building blocks. But if your preschooler has already acquired the video game habit (maybe through an older sibling), now is the time to start setting limits. First, you have to assess how much he's playing and then consider the other things he does with his free time. Most child development experts recommend that children's "total screen time" — which includes watching television and videos, surfing the Internet (for older kids), and playing computer or video games — be limited to one or two hours a day. If your child is playing a favorite game for, say, 45 minutes a day and watching one program on television,and getting some physical play time in each day, then I wouldn't be overly concerned about curtailing the game-playing. On the other hand, if he's glued to the joy stick for hours on end, he's playing too much. Here are some suggestions for keeping video-game playing time in check:

Set a time limit before the game begins. For instance, if you want your child to play for only 30 minutes, tell him that's the limit and set the kitchen timer. When the timer goes off, so does the game, no questions asked. When he balks or tries to negotiate more time, calmly restate the time limit. If he refuses to stop playing, give the game console a "time-out." Unplug the game and put it away in a designated time-out place for as long as you feel is appropriate.

Have a solution for the "But I'm in the middle of a game!" protest. Almost every game has a "save game" function, so your child can pause mid-game without losing any points, clues, weapons, etc. You may have to help your child figure out how this function works.

When "time's up," suggest a few alternative activities, such as helping you cook, reading a book with you, or doing an art project. This should help ease him away from the game.

Require that any chores, such as putting away toys, be completed before playing games or, for that matter, before watching television or videos.

Don't put the computer or video-game console in your child's room where he can play unsupervised.


Comment: This is a big problem in Indian children since now with the changing lifestyle many couples are both working, and there is easy access to all kinds of devices to play video games. Peer pressure (believe it or not) also leads to increased tendency to play games, since other children going to playway or day care are playing games. Parents need to get more involved with the kids, and give them alternatives to do, since just telling them NOT to play games is not likely to work. Kids at this age need to be kept busy, and alternate activities are essential to reduce 'screen time'

No comments: