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Dr. Ficus, MD
Dr. Ficus, MD, Pediatrician
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 712
Experience:  14 years in general pediatrics and mother of two great kids!
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My 10 year old son plays computer and/or video games so much

Resolved Question:

My 10 year old son plays computer and/or video games so much so that he has not other interests. He's not involved in any extracurricular activities or sports. He has no other interests other than computer and video games. He's an only child but has friends over a lot and still just plays those games. He has an I Pod that he brings with him if he goes anywhere so he can continue his gaming. Could this be an addiction and how do I break him of this habit?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Dr. Ficus, MD replied 2 years ago.

DrFicusMD :

I'll do my best to try to help you with this issue. If you're available for chat, lets get started.

DrFicusMD :

It's really hard to control gaming in our children's high-tech world but it is in their best interest to control the amount of time they spend in front of a screen (t.v. or computer).

DrFicusMD :

Generally its recommended that children spend no more than 2 hours per day in front of a screen.

DrFicusMD :

You might want to start by limiting his time during the school week. For example, allow him to have 30 minutes to play after school prior to starting homework. Then its to work on school work, reading, etc. After that he can play a board game with you or go outside and play. It might be tough at first because he'll likely need you to play with. Hopefully with time he'll discover other interests. Perhaps you could purchase a lawn game like ladder ball or corn hole, for example. Then maybe you'll be able to get other kids who live near you engaged in the activity.

DrFicusMD :

Also, enrolling him in some kind of physical activity is important, whether that be an organized sport or martial arts or some other kind of sport so he can be getting some exercise outside of just what's available at school.

DrFicusMD :

I hope that's helpful information. If I've left anything unanswered please be sure to reply to me. If I've answered to your satisfaction kindly leave positive feedback. Good luck!


 

Customer:

I know about the 2 hour screen time limit. I know about putting him in an organized sport, etc. My problem is that he refuses to join any sport at all or be in anything. I've signed him up in the past for things and paid for it and then he tries it once or twice and won't go back or he won't even go the first time.


 

Customer:

 


 

Customer:

I have offered to play with him, other games like board games, take him to parks, go for walks, bike rides, etc, play ball or toss a ball back and forth, etc, but he has absolutely no interest in any of that and refuses. I guess my concern is how do I go about limiting the screen time in a positive way so that he doesn't see me as the "wicked witch". He has a tendency towards some anxiety and I think that anxiety is what keeps him from wanting to try new sports types of activities.


 

DrFicusMD :

That's really frustrating for both of you, I'm sure. Regardless of whether or not he engages in other activities it's important to limit the screen time. You might have to start with just doing that to get him to realize that things are pretty boring with nothing else to do. I know that sounds mean but, again, you're just trying to do what is in his best interest and what he's doing now just isn't acceptable going forward. I might start by sitting him down and explaining that playing video games and watching t.v. is not only not beneficial to him but is actually harmful to his body, brain, and even his eyesight (there is quite a lot of evidence to suggest that when all we do is look up close at something we lose our distance vision). Explain that you're going to have to make some changes together to make sure that he grows up to be as healthy as he can be and that that starts with limiting the screen time to 2 hours per day (or maybe even less on school days and a little more on weekends). Talk together about other things the two of you could do together or other things he could do with his friends. Ask him about what he likes. Perhaps there's something out there that neither of you have ever done that you could do together (like rock climbing, for example). You might look into geo caching or letter boxing (www.letterboxing.org) as something new you could do. Ask a friend of his if he'd like to go with you. Go out and purchase a new Lego set or some kind of craft or take a class of some kind together. If he's always allowed to just go back to the gaming there's no push to do anything else as he knows he can always fall back on that activity. I know it's difficult to raise a child in this age (I have a 9yr old boy and an 11yr old girl and fight the same battles) but it's a very worthwhile boundary to set.

DrFicusMD :

So if he refuses to participate in anything with you then the alternative is to sit quietly and do nothing. Given that option for a while he'll likely come to the realization that the activities you suggest are better than sitting and doing nothing.

Dr. Ficus, MD, Pediatrician
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 712
Experience: 14 years in general pediatrics and mother of two great kids!
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Dr. Ficus, MD
Dr. Ficus, MD
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14 years in general pediatrics and mother of two great kids!