Tech & Media

Level Up? Parents vs. Video Games

Jan 21, 2013

There is a monkey on my family's back, and it's one particular video gaming console. Okay, the monkey includes ALL electronic devices, but this particular console annoys me the most, and causes the most howls of outrage from my kids when it's switched off. The deep love of electronics in this family sometimes makes me want to toss ALL electronics into the trash, and move the family to a cabin in the woods. But then what would we do? Talk to each other?

We are a true 21st century family. Electronic entertainment dominates this household ... And is therefore on the front line when it comes to discipline and punishment. Yes, I said the word "punishment." Despite being pretty loosie goosie with our parenting, we still feel there must be consequences for behaviour that is ... incorrect, such as not completing homework and chores prior to game time, or sassy, snarky talk with siblings and parents when it's time for fair play and sharing.

We have had the pleasure of raising children who are very comfortable with who they are and their place in the world. My children enjoy a good debate. However, not all subjects are up for a debate. Homework, bedtime and eating dinner are a few absolutes (in my opinion) that are not open to discussion. The one thing that can stop them in their self-righteous tracks is the mention of electronic and gaming privileges being revoked. Of course, this threat does let loose a tirade of much screaming and wailing, but I have found that it is worth it in the long term.

Responsibility can be a tough one for kids to figure out. Balance is another. They are supposed to learn by example from us, their parents, but in a house where the adults love their electronic devices as much as the children do, this can be an issue of double standards. This means that the adults might have to put down their iPads or laptops for a moment, too, even if this feels REALLY unfair, just to set a physical example to the kids. It's hard, because to the kids, there isn't any difference between myself sitting on the couch with my laptop "working" and them playing video games.  

I do admit that our way of handling tech time in our family is clearly FAR from perfect, and the cycle of "but MOOOOOOOOMs" is exhausting, so I would love to hear from parents who feel they have dealt with the lure of video games versus the rest of their world in a way that actually works. There must be more to life than gaming consoles for my kids, and it should not be a fate worse than death to be told not to play them. 


Kerry Sauriol is the Vancouver mom behind the blog, Crunchy Carpets. She has three children and sundry pets, and tries to balance it all while keeping her sanity. Her blog focuses on the juggling act called parenting - in her case, the act of juggling a preschooler, two burgeoning "tweens" and keeping everyone out of therapy when they're older.

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