Un-Plugging Our Gamer

Technology.

Love it. Hate it. We all have a relationship with it. As with all of parenting and adulting, my relationship with technology is an example my son will learn from – and with this in mind, I have become hyper-aware of my usage.

Dylan fell in love with his first DS when he was 7. Much like a first crush, we had to set boundaries for our son–and our family. When the Nintendo Switch was released earlier this year, honestly, there was more anticipation to that March 3 date, than build-up that went into my wedding. It was clear his relationship had moved from recreational to serious.

There are a lot of things we strive to do to keep this relationship healthy and balanced, here are a few:  

1. Get as far and away as possible. I know, I know, you are probably thinking, “This woman has serious avoidance issues,” and you wouldn’t be completely wrong in that assessment, but this is not about me. Because my husband and I are not in the business of entertaining children, this first tip is by far the hardest for us. When we can’t be outside, we rely heavily on books, music, board games and cards, and small science and art projects. For weekends, we plan day trip picnics, hikes, and around town happenings (shout out to WMB monthly posts). Our devices are left at home with the exception of a cell phone or a camera. We may spend time researching a trail on the computer together looking for tips and clues for what we may find, and we like to follow up our hike with a review of the trail.

2. Schedule time and make rules! It is inevitable that our son is going to play. We don’t want him sneaking around with his gaming. We limit electronics (music and photography not included) to weekends only for 30-90 minutes.  {Disclaimer: When the entire family plays, this don’t count against our son’s minutes. JUST DANCE is always a crowd favorite, and ahem, if I may say so, I drive a fierce mini Princess Peach kart!} WiFi access is not allowed on any gaming devices in our home. The iPad was so much of a struggle for us, he doesn’t even want to play it now. Despite the parental settings, the in-app commercials were not appropriate for his viewing, so he can only play when we could sit and watch him play. Our son is not allowed to play on the computer in his room!

3. Get some magazine subscriptions. This is a healthy mode of communication and lets our son stay current on new games, devices, and reviews without actually “hooking up”. 

4. He buys his own electronic devices and games. This has slowed down his relentless need for instant gratification, and we have seen great things come from this part of the relationship. Our son is thoughtful, intentional, and a very informed consumer when it comes to gaming.

5.  We embrace it because it makes him happy. The last thing I want is for our son is for him to feel like he has to hide his passion for gaming from us or to be embarrassed about it. This may set the tone for future relationships. So trips to the Game Stop have become like miniature vacations, well planned and financed before we even walk in the door. Discussions around our dinner table about Minecraft, upcoming games, data features certain devices have over others, and character plots help me connect with his love of gaming.

How does your family “unplug”?

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