From Barbies and He-man to FIFA and World of Worlds, we must admit we’ve come a long way when it comes to recreational facilities during leisure hours!

There was a time when we were quite pro about our children indulging in video games. That’s because studies showed it enhanced computer skills, eye-hand co-ordination, was emotionally safe and encouraged steady progress and ultimate winning. But things are different now.

More and more kids are shunning outdoor activities to stay in and play these games. It’s a common sight to have children engaged in violent games for hours on end, disinterested in doing anything else, including eating and sleeping. The depression and lack of social connection caused due to excessive video game use is creating a big worry for most parents. So if you too feel that your child needs a digital detox, read on for some helpful tips to get them out of this digital trance.

Take the screens out of your child’s bedroom
Start by plugging out the root cause from their presence. Laptops, desktops, televisions, iPads should all be in a public space where you can keep an eye on them. It is much easier to limit computer gaming if devices are in open spaces or family rooms.

Game time needs to be earned
Access to computer games should be viewed as an earned privilege, not an automatic right. Also don’t use video games as a reward for good behavior. This will simply assert the notion that homework or chores are something to get through. You can limit video games play time to an hour or two tops every day. But this too needs to be subjected to the clause that all their homework and extra-curricular activities are equally paced out through for the day. Putting time aside for games after homework will help your children prioritize and develop time-management skills.

Parental control
Another way to put a cork in your child’s gaming addiction is by using the Parental Control settings on all consoles. These password protected options usually help caregivers exercise control over their children’s play and how much time is allotted. Also, consider banning Massively Multiplayer or Online Role Playing Games in your home. If it is rated appropriate for your child, their addiction rates have known to be higher than other genres.

Find alternatives
To make the games less seductive for your child, capture your child’s attention outside. Understand what your child enjoys to do recreationally and create a stimulating environment around it for them away from your living rooms. It could be anything ranging from arts and crafts, theater, or movie-making. You can look at getting him to join a sport where he can build on his motor skills. If he has trouble with outdoor games look at something more accommodating like martial arts, bowling, or swimming. You can also persuade him to join a camp or a youth club. The key here is to reduce alone downtime at home by focusing his attention to something more constructive.

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edited by Neelam Goswami on 11-03-2014.

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