Creating healthy and maintainable game and screen time habits starts long before parents realise they need them. As children engage with phones, tablets and gaming consoles at an earlier age, it becomes important to establish ground rules early to ensure healthy engagement in school, social, and familial pursuits.
In this way, QTIME actually started years ago, even though we didn’t realise at the time this was where we would be today. This started simply as a dad trying to curb his children’s gaming habits which were getting out of control. Had we started the conversation with them about limiting screen time and expecting them to only play at certain times of the day for a limited time, we may have avoided some of the biggest rows and battles during their teenage years. Instead, we fought constantly and the boys learned the hard way that gaming can overtake your life.
What we realised was you can’t let kids set their own rules around screen time because when they start playing a game, they get absorbed and lose track of time. Once they are sucked in, getting them to turn off the Playstation would lead to a battle and hearing incessantly ‘just ten more minutes.’ If we had the foresight to start enforcing these rules when they were still young or had a product like QTIME to thwart their efforts to do nothing other than game, it would have been much easier.
In one of our first articles, we talked about Fortnite addiction – a much newer phenomenon. We wanted people to recognise that video games are only getting easier to play and more addictive. Nowadays, it’s hard to keep your kids from playing video games completely and it becomes necessary for parents to create household rules. Here we want to elucidate on those rules and add a few more.
These were rules we ourselves used or talked about with other parents as we developed QTIME. Every family will have their own unique system and may even need to have separate rules for each child, but these are standard ways many of us have used to mitigate video game addiction and create responsible video game habits.
Limit game play and screen time outside of school work to two hours a day.
Seriously, this is the best thing you can do for your kids. According to global health organisations, a healthy amount of screen time is less than 2 hours a day. There have been many studies about how this provides kids with more time for social activities and school work, ensuring they keep their grades high and maintain good physical and mental health. Going over this amount of time can have serious repercussions for your kids health.
Set a good example.
Kids learn from the best. If you practice moderate screen time habits in your daily life, they will learn from you (and will never use your own habits against you during a fight). These best practices start early on and while it can be good for kids to use educational apps on tablets and phones, try not to let them use it for long periods of time or have the tablet or Xbox play the role of the babysitter.
Forbid gaming during school hours.
Gaming during school hours should never be allowed, but it’s becoming more common due to gaming apps on phones. Ensure your kids remain focused while at school by setting controls on their phone to disable screen time and use during the weekday school hours. If this fails, talk to their teachers and see what is the best way to limit this activity at school.
Family time is family time.
Meals and family meetings should be screen-free. It’s important for families to interact with one another directly without interruptions from games, phones, and TVs. This is a time to have quality interactions with each other, especially at meals or while doing chores. Some families do integrate game play into family time. It ensures that parents know what kind of games their children play and can help form bonds. Just try to find a variety of activities to share with your children for well-rounded family time.
Set and regulate specific time limit for all gaming consoles.
For gaming consoles, like PS4 and Xbox, set daily household time limits. This always ensures that your kids have enough time for school work, social activities, and chores. You can use this to teach them about balance in everyday activities. You can also use this as incentive for good behaviour and good grades by adding more time for game play on the weekends. QTIME is a great tool to help enforce gaming time limits and reward responsible behaviour.
Limit gaming time before bedtime.
There are several studdies that have been conducted on how screen time before bed can disturb sleep patterns. Whether it’s the inability to stop playing to get sufficient sleep or the intense stimuli, it’s important to limit screen time before bed for deeper sleep. It’s recommended to stop game time at least half hour to an hour before bed.
Utilize parental controls, but realize they are not flawless.
Nowadays, phones, tablets and gaming consoles have started to include parental and screen time controls. Usually these are accessed in the settings for these devices and are adaptable to each household’s needs. But, be weary of leaning too heavily on controls that come built into gaming consoles and phones. Kids are smart and tech savvy; often they find easy ways to subvert these settings. There are countless articles online of how kids quickly and innovatively found ways around these screen time settings on their iPhone or Xbox.
Also, it is in the best interest of companies like Playstation or Xbox to make it as easy as possible to play games because they work with gaming companies to sell their games, encouraging people to play via ads and promotions.
QTIME is here to help.
If your kids can’t stop playing games and the battles seem endless, invest in a product like QTIME, which will help you set and easily maintain gaming time limits in your household. Via the QTIME App you can easily measure your child’s game play activity and limit it, making changes to time limits or simply turning off the Xbox or PS4 when you aren’t home. If your child tries to unplug the device, you’ll know immediately via email and an App notification. It’s that simple and can help save you so much time and headaches.
If we only knew then what we know now, we would have started talking about gaming and setting time limits much earlier. We created QTIME because, as our family matured, the kids started to realise how disruptive and upsetting gaming got before they went off to university. Together, we wanted to take the lessons that we learned as a family and create a product that would make it easy for parents to regulate screen time and help their kids think responsibly about gaming.