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Video Games: A Parent’s Best Friend
By Amelia Rowley, Psy.D.
Are you tired of fighting with your child about his or her intense video game use? Although it can be difficult for some kids and teens to tear their eyes away from a screen, this intense motivation to engage in electronics can also be used to parents’ advantage. This is your biggest reinforcer! For example, parents can set up a reward system where their child completes homework or chores in exchange for minutes earned to play video games (e.g., one completed task = 10 minutes of screen time). Completing math homework, putting away clean clothes, and feeding the dog are all good tasks to reinforce. Screen time for kids and teens should be limited to one to two hours per day according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, so be sure not to add too many tasks to your child’s to-do list. Try creating a visual schedule of each required task and encourage your child to place a check mark next to the task when they’ve finished. Now he or she can work towards independently completing these items. Whereas Minecraft used to reign supreme, Pokémon Go is the new kid in town. Parents can use this interest to their advantage by tying the game to exercise and weight loss goals for their child. Many smart phones are equipped with fitness trackers that will track the number of steps your child takes every day. If your child has started taking Pokémon Go walks around the neighborhood, reward them with a small treat for reaching 5,000 or 10,000 steps per day! Even better, when they’ve completed homework or chores, reward them with screen time and join them for a Pokémon Go walk. Sometimes earning quality time with mom and dad is just as rewarding.
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