Real Life Solutions: Video Gaming

mintle03(2).jpgWe are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include "? for Dr. Mintle" on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

Q: My 10-year-old son would play video games all day if I let him. Every time I tell him to put down the game, he says, “But I am in the middle of a game and can’t stop.” I feel like pulling out my hair and wish I had never given in to buying him a gaming system.

A: Don’t pull out your hair! You are more powerful than a 10-year-old armed with video games. Instead of buyer’s remorse, teach him how to use those games responsibly.

Most video games have a save button that allows the player to quit and then pick up the game again with no lost action. Your son’s excuse to keep playing is just that—an excuse. But first, you need an established time limit for play before he ever turns on a game. Experts recommend that screen time not exceed one to two hours in any given day. That includes all screens (TV, computer, gaming systems, and mobile devices).

Once you have established the amount of playing time, make sure he does not have the gaming system, TV, or computer in his room unsupervised. You cannot monitor screen time if you cannot see when and where he is using screens.

Also, review the content of games. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports that most games have common themes that are promoted. You should be screening for the killing of people or animals; the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol; criminal behavior; disrespect for authority and the law; sexual exploitation; violence toward women; racial, sexual, and gender stereotypes; foul language; obscenities; and obscene gestures.

Finally, remember you are the boss and decide the rules of usage. If he does not abide by the time frame, give one warning and then remove the device as a time-out from play. Loss of the privilege is usually enough punishment to keep a child in line with the established time frame.

Resources:
For video and game reviews: http://www.pluggedin.com/
Raising Healthy Kids in an Unhealthy World by Linda Mintle (Nelson, 2008), chapter on media usage

Do you have a video gamer in your family? How do you handle time limits or screening games?

Real Life Solutions by Dr. Linda Mintle

We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include "? for Dr. Mintle" on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share. 

Soccer

 

Q: My 8-year-old son is on a recreational soccer league. He loves to play sports but is a bad loser. After a game, he is irritable and upset. I don’t like how he talks about losing, but my husband says I am overreacting. Am I?

A: The number of children that participate in recreational sports has grown exponentially in recent years. However, we are seeing some disturbing trends — kids who are overly rewarded for mediocrity in order to prevent them from feeling bad to kids obsessed with winning.

A survey in Sports Illustrated for Kids asked its readers what they observed about their parents, coaches, and adults when they played sports. Seventy-four percent said they witnessed out-of-control adults at their games. The most common behaviors cited were parents yelling at officials and coaches and parents yelling at children.

Parents need to chill out and allow coaches to do their jobs. Unfortunately, when children see overly intense adults get angry, they learn the same behavior. Therefore, observe if the adults are exercising self-control at the games.

Another possibility relates to how your child feels about himself. Usually kids who are sore losers worry too much about what others think of them when they do not win. Or a child may feel that he is only accepted when he wins. Discuss the value of doing your best on that particular day over winning.

Additionally, some children easily are frustrated and need help winding down from a losing game. They do not know how to handle frustration, so they get angry. Parents who can talk about their own frustrations and disappointments when they lose model for their children how to accept losses.

Evaluate the messages you may be sending about the importance of winning; teach your child that his identity does not come from being a winner — character matters more; help your child deal with frustrations and losing in ways that are acceptable; and practice graceful losing. Winning is not always possible, and learning to lose gracefully is what builds character in a child.

Is your child a good sport? How have you taught your child good sportsmanship?

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons.

Dr. Mintle Answers Your Questions

mintle03(2).jpg We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include "? for Dr. Mintle" on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

Q: There is talk in our school about exposing our kindergartners to sex education. I do not understand why the school wants to introduce this at such a young age. What is the thinking behind this?

A: Less than a year ago, the United Nations (UN) recommended that 5-year-olds be taught about gender violence and self-gratification, concepts 5-year-olds cannot even grasp. The UN purported that these issues are age appropriate and that children who live in a world in which AIDS and HIV are rampant must be informed. The guidelines also recommended teaching 9-year-olds the “safety of abortion; the positive and negative effects of aphrodisiacs; and about homophobia, transphobia, and abuse of power.” What you are seeing is a political ideology being introduced as a guise for sex education. It is age-inappropriate and not information most parents would want addressed at young ages. The secular view of sex is not God’s view — a sacred act reserved for a husband and wife — and you do not need to have the secular view forced on your children. You have the right to direct your child’s education even when she attends a public school. Speak out. You do not have to expose your child to sexual content you deem inappropriate. You are a taxpayer and have say in what the school curriculum will include.

Suggested Resource: How and When to Tell Your Kids About Sex by Stan and Brenna Jones (Nav Press 2007)