Do you sometimes wonder if your child is addicted to video games? Is getting off or ending video game sessions often the cause of fights or meltdowns for your child?
In an increasingly digital world, children are spending more time in front of screens and parents are left to negotiate the muddy waters of figuring out how much screen time/video game time is healthy for their child. This can be particularly difficult for a child with ADHD as video games lend themselves to being ‘time sucks’ and can often distort a child’s temporal awareness. Here are some tips for setting and maintaining healthy boundaries for video games and screen time.
- Communicate clearly with your child about the amount of screen time that is allowed
During a calm period of the day, sit down with your child and discuss your concerns about screen time and present your concerns. Make sure to listen to your child and reflect their concerns.
- Consider the time of day when you agree to schedule gaming/screen time.
Scheduling screen time right before homework or bedtime can be a recipe for disaster especially for children who have very difficult moments detaching. Try to involve your child in problem solving and ask for ideas of when you can best schedule screen time so that it is not disruptive when it must come to an end. Be flexible.
- Always monitor and preview content before your child views it.
Some games and videos can have violence or sexual content that may be inappropriate or overwhelming for your child. Always check the suggested ages and consider watching the video game first before you purchase or rent it for your child.
- Consider what your child is getting out of screen time.
Playing a video game or watching a youtube video may provide much needed zone out time for the ADHD brain. Make sure to expose your child to a range of other activities that may also provide relaxation and self-soothing feelings such as yoga, meditation, music lessons etc.
- Practice what you preach.
Modeling is one of the most powerful tools of influence that parents possess. Practice your own healthy boundaries with your cell phone and screen time. Schedule regular family media -free times or zones, such as meal times, bedtime or family outings.
- Use Screen time to build on your child’s strengths
Not all screen time is unhealthy. There are amazing tools available that can help support learning. Research some great new learning sites or games that support your child’s reading or math and spend some time with your child exploring their interest in art or science by checking out online museums. Speak to your child’s teacher or the school librarian for recommendations.