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7 Ways to Distract the Digital Game Obsessed Kid

One summer my daughter took up cake decorating
Yesterday, I heard on NPR about kids obsessed with digital games.  When I heard a mom say that she limited her son's game usage to 30 minutes a day and that she found that her son was obsessing about that 30 minutes all day long.  When he started playing the game, he seemed to relax.  I remember thinking, it sounds like a drug.  I also thought, well my kids would not be allowed on any electronic then, we'd go electronic free.

1. Go camping - we usually camp in areas that don't have phone service
2. Have them earn their computer time
3. Talk to them regularly about addiction to digital games and how the industry is set up.
4. Join a team sport, so your kids can interact with other kids
5. Set goals that does not include electronics and rewards associated with them

6. Don't just tell the kids to have a hobby, join them.  My kids and I love doing scrapbooking together.  Other hobbies that are great to do together is cooking, origami, whittling/carving, camping, gardening, film, radio controlled air planes.  Keep a journal about what you learn.

Not a team sport but the martial arts inspire focus
7.  Work on a project together.  This past summer, DD and I worked on her Halloween costume together and my other one wanted to invent her own cupcake.  Another year my daughter Other ideas: Go cart,

As you can see, most of these activities include interacting with you or another.  It's my guess, that a child obsessing about video games is internally obsessing about it.  As a parent, I would let the child talk about the game but try to steer the conversation and their thought to the task at hand.  The trick is to do it without them realizing it. I probably would say, "Oh that's interesting <regarding the game>.  Hey, do you know what ingredient we have to put in next?  I totally lost track of what we were doing.  You're younger and your brain can probably remember better than I."  or "Oh shoot, I lost focus, what are we doing?"  It typically puts the blame on me and they are there to save me.  I know shameless but it works on my kids.  I hope they don't read this and I hope it helps you with yours.

What are your ideas for steering kids away from electronics? 


  1. As a parent who raised my now 19 yo son solo from age 8 to 18, the electronic challenges posted resonate deeply with me. All of the suggestions posed are definitely beneficial to a cohesive, bonding relationship with children who are faced with multiple attacks by media, friends, and other influences that they join the human (teen) race and play electronic games. I certainly employed many of the techniques suggested during my son's formative years; namely as the Cub Master for my son's Cub Scout Pack for 5 years from 1st through 5th grades. Before that, my son and I were inseparable; two peas in a pod we were. I laid a firm foundation for my son and those years' of commitment paid off. Then the unspeakable happened - despite our extremely close relationship (which still exists today), he bore the brunt of the influences I mentioned above. Interesting to note: I allowed those influences to take root - intentionally.

    Two sides to every coin, I felt my son had the foundation of what was right/wrong well ingrained in him. Feeling confident that I had done the hard work first, and maintaining a very close bond with him throughout his teen to late years, I allowed him to engage in age appropriate electronic games. Heck, half the time I was buying games that he and I could play together. Studies are abound regarding what is now the first generation of gamers who are 20 somethings, but most interesting are the suggestions that those teens who grew up with electronic games are better suited to this blossoming and ever-expansive world of electronic connection to society.

    Since the word "Regret" is not even a word in my vocabulary, I can say with absolute, unwavering conviction that I'm grateful my son grew up with electronics. I'm also grateful beyond measure that I grew up with him; albeit having to re-tool my thinking to keep up with the times and still maintaining a deep emotional, connective bond with my son.

    Thank you again for your insightful post...

    1. I should point out, my kids do play computer games. And yes, my husband and both kids play Minecraft together and have blast. It can be a bonding moment. I love the idea of joining a club or organization too.

      And no, I don't think there should be any regret. I think parents today face challenges so different from parents 50 years ago. I remember having to teach my kids to stop eating when full - did your parents teach you that. Probably not, they probably made sure you ate everything off your plate.

  2. Not having children I can't talk from experience, but I would like to think that an active family breeds an active child. Instead of turning on the TV first thing when you get home or sit on the computer all night, find quality activities to do together like going for walks after dinner, riding bikes, cooking together, playing board games etc. Video games should be treated as a privilege not taken for granted. Just my thought but perhaps I am naive.

    1. No I agree. As much as your kids drive you nuts, they do look up to you.

  3. Great thoughts. I think we can easily fall into habits where we are handing our kids some electronics while we get something done. I've had meals with family members with tweens and the first thing the kids do is take out their phones. I think having a no electronics rule at meals is an absolute must.

    1. Oh my, at the dinner table? That's awful. We have a "No reading, no toys" rule at the dinner table. I've broken the no reading and got yelled at. If you are eating with a phone, you are not eating with the family. That's crazy.

  4. I think that you have hit on the most important thing: Give them something else positive and active that they will want to do, and then they won'd be spending too much time on addictive electronic games. Presenting good alternatives is so much more fun than prohibiting or limiting couch potato or computer potato behavior.

    1. I agree but I think to get them started with it, an adult needs to do it with them. I remember when my kids were little, I read if you start doing the game with them, after a few minutes you can walk away and they'll keep playing. This worked quite frequently with my youngest.

  5. This is great! It's a sad day in age when we have think about peeling our kids away from electronics, but alas, here we are. There is nothing more important then getting outside and moving your body, whether your a kid or an adult!

    1. Oh my goodness, I feel I'm living in a very different parenting world than my parents. We need to be peeled away from electronics and I feel we need to teach our kids about eating - choosing the right foods, reading labels, knowing when to stop eating. Oooo, I hear another post LOL

  6. I completely agree. Everything in moderation. As soon as something becomes an obsession it is a bad thing. I find my husband and I are guilty of filling our free time on our computers or devices. Every member of the family has to get used to cutting back and just taking note of the little things. Great post!

    1. Agreed, everything in moderation. I suppose knowing where the balance is becomes the trick.

  7. We have a 30-min limit on weekdays after homework and chores, and at least twice a week they don't even get that because we have sports. Sat and Sun mornings, they are allowed to play until Mom & Dad get up (just like we watched cartoons when we were kids). We definitely believe in moderation, and maybe if my kids weren't such strong readers and active, I would feel differently, but it's working for us. I have two 7yos and a 10yo. We also really like playing video games together, so it's very social and cooperative, and not just zoning out in front of the TV.

    1. That's awesome! We used to have a 30 min limit but their older now and it gets more difficult. The get bored faster, so now we have a time frame they can play games as long as they have homework and chores done. They are getting older and hoping to give more chances to make the right choice. I'm happy to say, they don't always choose to play on the games. I think they realize the destructive nature of gaming to much.


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