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Why Setting a Gaming Time Limit is Important

We’ve been there. Remember? You were 10 years old. You just finished getting the third Spiritual Stone in Ocarina of Time and you were super excited to find out what happens when you take them all to the Temple of Time. You make it the bridge, run through the square, and just when you are about to step foot into the temple your mom calls and says “TIMES UP! TURN IT OFF!!”. You yell back in a plea for mercy begging for just a few more minutes of game time, but you know it is too late. You turn off your N64 and lie awake all night eagerly anticipating the next day when you finally pull the Master Sword out of the Pedestal of Time.

Fellow gaming fathers, we understand how frustrating these moments were as children. But now that we are parents, I think most of us can acknowledge that there’s a balance to all things and that setting limitations on video game time is a good thing. Here’s a few reasons why we should put a time limit on the amount of video games we let our children play.

1. For starters, no gaming! I am a father of 3 kids at the moment of writing this article. I have a 4 year-old, a 2 ½ year-old, and a newly turned 1 year-old. I don’t let any of them play video games yet. They don’t need to. I want them to exercise their imaginations and enjoy the world of playing pretend. Instead of sitting them in front of a screen and letting them tap themselves into oblivion, I get to enjoy my son and daughter running around the house trying blast the robots with toy guns they made out of those big Mega Bloks! For my wife and I, we discussed that their “time limit” might be when they get into the first or second grade. If they are anything like me, they’ll be gamers for life. So, no need to start them too early, especially when they are still developing mentally. Don’t get me wrong – I want them to enjoy playing video games just as much as I do. But I don’t want to rush them into that hobby. I enjoy eating cake and pizza but I wouldn’t feed it to my newborn. I don’t necessarily know when the right time is to let them play video games, but I’m sure I’ll know it when I see it.

2. Set a Practical Time Limit. I remember when I was younger and my mom tried to set a 30 minute time limit. Now this was back in the day before online gaming ever came to consoles. So, imagine trying to play something like Banjo-Kazooie on a 30 minute time limit. There is no way you’re going to get a whole lot done. You might have enough time to get 1 jiggy, which means you might have that game beat in about 100 days. I share this story as an example of what it’s like to play a game within an unrealistic amount of time. Obviously, the time limits are going to vary from age group to age group because as our kids get older they get interested in more complex games. If my child is just in an Angry Birds phase than 30 minutes would be more than an efficient amount of time. But if my 16 year-old is really into League of Legends than I can see a 2 – 3 hour limit being more appropriate. Which leads me to my third point.

3. Responsibilities Always Come First. Video games are a hobby. They are fun and (unless you are making money on streams and content creation) they are a waste of time. The same way that watching a TV Show or Movie is a waste of time. And it needs to be highlighted that there is no world where my kids can play games before their chores or home work is done. And by “done” I mean thoroughly completed. If they want to play a video game, then they can play after the kitchen is spotless and the 100% certain that they answers to their math homework are correct. Now, I know that there will be times when they can fake that they “studied real hard”, but if they are lying, you’ll see the results creep up somewhere (usually sooner then later). And there will be times when our kids will struggle in academics, and they are putting in the time. In that case, I would be a little more lenient on letting them play a bit. This, of course, is dependent on what kind of kid you have; their personality along with how they thrive in school and daily living. At the heart of the matter is that they are putting in the effort to make sure they are doing a good job in their work. School work and chores are not the only two responsibilities my children must do in order to get some game time. They also need to be sure to be keeping up relationships with their family members: mom, dad, brothers and sisters, cousins, etc. There are so many important things in life that can be easily swept aside by the lure of a great game. It is important to me that my children take pride in their work (and relationships) and if denying them video games is how I get their attention then so be it!

Being a parent is full of tough choices. Some of us have children that are very demanding and it can be so much easier to just let them play games for a few hours just to give ourselves a break. Once in a great awhile, this might be a real help. But if we let our children do this all the time, then it could develop into more serious behavioral issues in the future. Stay strong my gaming fathers in proverbial arms! Our families are relying on us to help keep the order! Don’t be afraid to institute time limits on your children to help maintain discipline and grow a family that will be bring positive advantages to his or her community.

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