Help! My Teen is Glued to His/Her Video Console!

Well if they really are glued to the console, their sibling probably got crazy glue for the holidays. But, more than likely, they just disappeared into their rooms, coming out only occasionally, bleary-eyed, to grab some food and then return back to their cave.

Ken Rabow on Our Kids

How bad is incessant video gaming? It’s all about duration and intensity. There are studies out that talk about medium and long term changes to the brain from these actions. More so, when combined with multi-tasking (texting, bbm-ing, facebook, watching a movie at the same time) the grey-matter in your child’s noggin is being trained to be three miles wide and one inch deep.

What do we do about it? One of my clients calls it the cereal factor. He has noticed that during school time his brain is crispy, like new cereal that is ready to eat (mmmm, cereal) but when break-time comes the brain ends up looking and acting like cereal that has been in the milk or soy-based substitute way too long. We get mushy-brain.

The holidays are one thing, now it’s school time!!! In a previous article, I did make some suggestions on how to get your kids through the holidays mush-free (click here to see it) but now they are back in school and every moment that they are not at school, they are at their video games. How do you approach this?

Find a Mentor! It could be a music teacher, it could be a neighbor, it could be a professional coach (that’s what I do most of the week), but it should not be a parent. Insight rarely comes easily from someone too close.


Seven Steps for coming unglued.
1) Have the mentor help your teen look at their weekly schedule of classes.
2) Break it down with a scheduler (iCal or Google Calendar are good) and write out their whole week including start and stop times for class, transportation time, outside commitments (hockey, music lessons, etc.), social time.
3) Include the amount of time (start and stop) presently doing home work.
4) Ask your teen to estimate the amount of time required for home study on each subject – ask what the teacher’s recommendation is and take both and meet them halfway.
5) Look at sleep prep time, sleep time (approximate) and waking time and include this as part of the schedule.
6) Take a look at the free time available for gaming. (It’s never enough, is it?)
7) The tricky part – help determine how much increased time will be spent on school work and have the teen commit to it. This can be done one of three ways
a) a weekly report in a chart, where the student writes the daily work and the duration of practice.
b) a daily email to the mentor giving the same details
c) texts after each section in a day is completed: eg: jst did 40 min math – my brain hurts L

The Result: If your teen really wants to do well, this should be enough to help them start to take control of the scheduling and get back on track. If not, when the first tests come in, go over the whole system and ask the teen to figure out where they could have done more work or study more efficiently. Then implement step seven in reverse; going from c to b to a when appropriate.

The Allure: Video games have a magical quality to them. There is some good in them, no matter what you read about it and it probably will become a big part of most people’s future. We do want to also live in the real world and having gentle limits that are guided but ultimately come from the teen are the ones that will help them when they are out on their own.

A recent study found that young men in their 20’s and 30’s were actually playing more video games than their younger counterparts. Moderation and self-limits, these are the keys.

Now where’s my Angry Birds app?


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Stay tuned for more upcoming articles from Ken
Friday, Jan 20th 10 Ways to Make Your Dreams Come True
Friday, Jan 27th Why Do Some People Never Seem to Achieve Their Goals?
Friday, Feb 03rd Step Seven of the 12 Steps to Success – Follow Your Bliss
Friday, Feb 10th Romance and Teens
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