How to get your Teen to Stop Playing Video Games; The Shame-Free Way

Alright, so it has been a minute since I have written a blog post. I would like to continue to look at shame and the shame rules that were highlighted in “10 Rules Men Must Break”.

Summer is here! That means traveling, camping, walks in nature, and more free time (score!). When I talk with the parents that I work with about free time for their teens in the summer, there’s one thing that always comes up… electronics. You know you or your teen worked their butt off this year and maybe deserved to play some Fortnite or Battlefield. School is hard, life is hard, sometimes we need to treat ourselves a little bit. The key there is a little bit.

If your teen is playing video games for all hours of the day then this should be addressed. It can be hard to know what to say to your teen about this. You want them to listen to what you have to say and not get defensive.

The first thing I do with parents is to weigh out the pros and cons of video games. Some pros typically include: video games are a stress reliever, a social platform, and something someone can become passionate about. Downsides to video games are typically: they can become addictive, they can make someone quite irritable, and they take away time where that person can be out of the house socializing with friends or out in nature.

So, let’s use the shame rules to discuss video games. All of the shame rules can be applied to this situation, but I am going to highlight 3 of them. We are going to look at: control, blame, and no-talk.

The Main Shame Rule and Setting Limits

Control is the main shame rule. It is the idea that men always need to have control and when they don’t have control, they are ridiculed for it by their peers. Also, when men are too controlling, they are shamed. So, how does a guy win in this situation? Well, like everything in counseling, it’s a gray area. For this situation with video games, give your teen limits with video games and alternatives when not playing video games. The limit has most likely increased since it is summer. So, another option is sitting down with your teen or child to discuss what they think is a fair limit. Now, if they say 12 hours or some number that means eat, sleep, video games, that is not a realistic idea. However, giving them some control and yourself, control can be beneficial.

Creating an Open Conversation

This idea of an open conversation deals with no-talk. Your child may be upset that they aren’t or won’t play as many video games as they want to. So, allow them the space to discuss it with you. Not a yelling match or a passing conversation. A sit down, open conversation about video games and what is making them upset. This alleviates the withholding information from both yourself and your child.

Dealing With the Blame Game

The final shame rule is blame. As guys, we feel the need to blame someone for anything that goes wrong. We blame friends, strangers, and ourselves. In this situation, your child will blame you for being the withholder of fun in terms of the video games. To eliminate this aspect of blame, discuss reasons for the limits. Make sure this is once again a sit-down conversation and not round three of yelling. Kids these days have access to so much information on the internet. They know that playing video games is not the greatest for them. So, discussing the reasoning for limits in a logical manner helps them understand. Your reasons for the limits you set are up to you! You could also explore research on how video games impact a developing brain or more specifics for ideas of what to talk about in this part. The internet can be a powerful tool.

Well, happy summer! I hope some of these ideas help your family or yourself in some way. As always, individualize these ideas to your family. These are broad ideas for a reason, so you can have some freedom in how to go about it. If you need more help with this topic or your teen may need someone to talk to about this. Stop on by and we can explore what is going on.

Schenk, R. U., Everingham, J., Bly, R., & Kaufman, G. (1995). Men healing shame: An anthology. New York, NY: Springer.

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