I’ve seen a lot of posts on how to keep the kids entertained this summer but most are aimed at pre-schoolers. We have pre-teens who are totally addicted to their video games and who constantly need to be encouraged to do other things around the house or in the garden. They love watching gamers on Youtube and can’t wait to try out what they’ve ‘learned’… and before you know it, you have kids who become increasingly disconnected with ‘everyday family life’ and totally uninterested in anything that doesn’t involve some sort of technology.
But what do you do when your kids become too old to play with their Legos? What do you do when they get bored of their toy cars? What’s the alternative for kids who just can’t be bothered with arts and crafts?
Here’s a little list of tips that I think are useful in this pursuit of reducing gaming time, and alternative things we’ll be doing with our boys this summer. All in the hope that our boys can enjoy the summer, the sunshine, and some quality family time without being glued to the computers and video games all day.
Organise outdoor activities, and not just trips to the local park
Bike rides, treasure hunts in the woods, build a tent and camp in the garden, buy an inflatable pool or a trampoline, play with a kite, etc. But leave the games consoles at home! The aim is to keep them outside for as long as possible, entertained, active and drained… without the temptation to play video games.
Lead by example
I’m quite addicted to technology myself, if I’m totally honest. So I have to be intentional about how much I withdraw from technology, to set a good example to my kids. Social media breaks, no phones at the dinner table, no phones when we’re sitting together to watch a movie… whatever it is, I’ve chosen to occasionally disconnect so that they can follow my example. It goes without saying, the aim isn’t to completely remove gaming from their lives, but to regain control and not let video games take over everything else.
Spend more time as a family
…Playing board games, watching movies together, eating together, etc. These are valuable family moments, and we’re doing much more of it this summer.
Take the games consoles away
This may seem like the obvious solution but how many of us parents complain that our kids spend too much time in front of their screens, but never actually take the technology away from them? As parents we tend to confiscate games consoles when they’re punished, but how about taking them away to encourage other activities?
Create a fun theme around every mundane activity
Need the boys to get off their video games and help out in the kitchen? let’s turn it into a competition – whoever clears the most things off the dining table wins… or whatever theme you want to create, as long as you turn it into something fun and engaging for the kids, they’ll be much more willing to do it.
Take them to sports camps
Every holiday we make sure the boys attend a tennis camp, or a football camp. Not only does it keep them active, it also means they’re gone for a good 5 hours – that’s 5 hours away from technology and video games.
Every now and then, play video games with them
Yes, you read right… if you want to understand your children’s apparent ‘addiction’ to video games, or at least try and see things from their point of view and get a taste of the ‘fun factor’ it provides, the only way to do this is to occasionally play with them, engage with them and ask questions. As someone who used to play video games when I was younger, I totally understand why my kids have become little gamers. Rom and I really believe in showing an interest in the things our children enjoy doing – including video games.
Visit museums, theme parks, fun fairs and local community events
We’ve received quite a few leaflets for local community events such as festivals, carnivals etc. We recently attended a free science fair with the kids, they learned a great deal and forgot all about their games consoles for a few hours.
Teach them to cook
Another alternative. Get these little munchkins involved with cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner. My boys love spending time in the kitchen with me. I often get them involved in my baking, but I’m about to upgrade this to all sorts of dishes – when I was their age I could cook pretty well, so there’s no excuse!
Teach them to set their own time limits on video gaming
This is probably the most important step to take if you want your children to understand the importance of self-discipline when it comes to gaming and technology. Again, the aim isn’t to completely eradicate it, it’s about managing this passion. Everything in moderation – We’re teaching our kids to time themselves (literally set a timer) and respect the time frame we’ve allowed them to play. It works!
Do you have kids who are addicted to their video games? What kind of things do you advise? Let me know in the comments below.