Video games are a part of life for most kids. But parenting advice about video games is hard to come by.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I had to applaud a noble attempt by a father in China to address a video game issue in his family:

“Sick and tired of his son playing video games and not listening to him, a father in China decided to take matters into his own hands… well, sort of. Instead of sending his son off to addiction camp or stripping him of internet and gaming rights, Mr. Feng… chose to hire an online “hitman” to school his son.

…According to his father, Xiao Feng had good grades in school, so they allowed him to play games; but when he couldn’t land a job they started looking into things… Unhappy with his son not finding a job, Feng decided to hire players in his son’s favorite online games to hunt down Xiao Feng. It is unknown where or how Feng found the in-game assassins—every one of the players he hired were stronger and higher leveled than Xiao Feng. Feng’s idea was that his son would get bored of playing games if he was killed every time he logged on, and that he would start putting more effort into getting a job.”

Nice. Misguided, maybe, but nice.

My (somewhat less creative) parenting advice about video games

I’m a dad with a couple teenagers who love video games. In my humble opinion:

  1. Most modern online gaming is no longer anti-social. Interactivity and even teamwork is becoming par for the course. True, it’s not sitting in McDonalds over an unmeltable milkshake, but it’s not sitting in a cave all by themselves anymore, either. Parenting advice about video games needs to take this into account.
  2. Outlawing gaming is a lost cause. If they don’t play at home, they’ll play at a friend’s house. Or leave home and go to College and go overboard because they didn’t learn moderation in a safe environment. Far better to help them wade into the pool while you’re around to guide them.
  3. You can and should set time limits. I find it staggering how many parents give up on this one and let their kids game all day Saturday. You are the parent. Act like it.
  4. Gaming is not a child’s right, it’s a privilege. So I use it as a reward, and I withhold it as a punishment.
  5. I also monitor how my kids’ hearts and minds are doing. If they’re starting to obsess about gaming or get too upset about losing or other players cheating, I initiate ghost protocol: no gaming for a period of time so they can detox.
  6. No game zones are a must. Right now we don’t allow gaming on Saturdays. We’re talking about having no gaming one day a week, one week a month, and one month a year. I find our kids are more cheerful when they haven’t gamed for a while. We’ve done several “no gaming” weeks and they pull out the lego, art supplies, board games, and more. Sometimes they’ve even admitted the truth: They’re happier without.
  7. We have a “creative” profile on our Mac stocked only with programs and apps they can use to create stuff: word processors, art programs, iMovie, Garage Band, etc. No internet browser, no games. We don’t set time limits on this profile and they absolutely love it.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, I know. So what’s your parenting advice about video games? Comment, share, and pin away!