[VIDEOBLOG] My Personal Guidelines For Gaming In My Modern Family

[VIDEOBLOG] My Personal Guidelines For Gaming In My Modern Family

This week’s videoblog was inspired by a reader question.

A reader emailed me to say that she read my post entitled New Study Finds That Kids Benefit From Playing Video Games and thought that my advice made sense to limit gaming in the household, but she wanted how I personally set rules in my household.

I think it’s no secret that my teenage son plays video games and this reader wanted to know what works in my family in terms of limiting gaming time.

Watch the video below to find out:

  • My personal family rules and consequences for gaming
  • The 3 most important points to keep in mind when setting your own family gaming guidelines
  • The advice I give to all of my private practice clients regarding gaming.

Also, don’t forget to download and print out the technology contracts that I created for readers of the Parenting The Modern Family blog to use. This free tool helps parents set and communicate guidelines for gaming use, social media accounts, and cell phone use. Click HERE to receive these free parenting tools instantly



To email me a question to be answered in a future videoblog, you can email me at DrBeccaB@ParentingTheModernFamily.com.

Don’t miss out on any new videos – subscribe to the blog updates or my Youtube updates.



Are You Using The 3 Important Elements That All Successful Modern Parent Use Religiously?

To Find Out, Download The Free Guide ==>

The Modern Parenting Blueprint: The 3 Elements That All Successful Modern Parents Use Religiously

New Study Finds That Kids Benefit From Playing Video Games

New Study Finds That Kids Benefit From Playing Video Games

New research that was just published this month in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology by the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health reports that some time spent playing video games not only isn’t harmful, but can actually have some profound benefits for our kids.

As a mom to a teenage son myself, this report left me feeling a little vindicated that I haven’t actually been a bad mom all these years by allowing a PS4 and other hand-held gaming consoles into my son’s life.

Gaming has been around for several generations now (many of today’s parents who grew up playing video games as kids are still gaming on a regular basis as adults) and video games themselves have transformed from from games with very basic graphics and strategies to huge productions with cinematic-quality effects and story lines that also includes multiplayer strategic play. Basically, as gaming has evolved, apparently we have been able to integrate this leisure activity into our lives in a positive and adaptive way.

In this article, I want to highlight the important findings of this new report for you so that you can make the best decision for your family about how much (if any) video game playing is appropriate in your family. Next, I want to give you some tips on how to set limits with gaming, so that you are prepared to create and maintain family rules and guidelines that makes sense for your family.

What The Findings In This Research Mean To Your Modern Family

Background of the article. The findings in this research article were based on surveying 3,195 European children, parents, and teachers regarding gaming habits, academic achievement, and behavioral and mental health functioning. This large survey took place in 2010. The results of this survey was published this month in the Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology Journal.

  • Video game use: Of the families surveyed, 40% reported participating in gaming less than 1 hour per week, another 40% reported playing between 1 and 5 hours per week, and 20% of families noted children gaming for more than 5 hours per week (this category was termed “high usage” in the report).
  • Factors associated with increased usage: Being a boy, being older, and belonging to a medium size family were associated with being in the “high usage” group. Conversely, a less educated, single, inactive, or psychologically distressed mother decreased the probability of being in the “high usage” category.
  • Gaming and academic achievement: Per teacher report, “high usage” kids were more likely to be noted as having good intellectual functioning and academic achievement (including competence in reading, mathematics, and spelling) than kids in the “low usage” category.
  • Gaming and motivation: Motivation to succeed at school did not vary whether the child was in the “high usage” group or in the “low usage” group. Both groups of kids appeared equally motivated to succeed academically.
  • Kids self-report of their own gaming use and mental health functioning: Initially, kids who were in the “low usage” category reported more incidences of internalizing disorders (i.e. anxiety and depression) and thoughts of death than kids in the “high usage” category. However, once the researchers  adjusted for child age and gender, family size, mother’s age, marital status, education, employment status, psychological distress, and European Region (West/ East), these differences were no longer significant, indicating that “high usage” kids and “low usage” kids reported the same amount of mental health distress.
  • Parent and teacher report of gaming use and mental health functioning: Per parent and teacher reports, there were no differences discovered between “high usage” and “low usage” kids in terms of emotional problems, ADHD, conduct problems, or peer relationship issues. However, in terms of social problems, kids whose mother and teacher both reported them as having problems with peer relationships or other social difficulties were more likely to be in the “low usage” group.

Why the positive findings? I think it has been assumed that the kids that were participating in large amounts of gaming time were kids from poor families without adequate supervision or “neglected” kids from busy, high-income families. But this eye-opening new research shows us that a lot of kids are regularly playing video games everyday in normal, middle-class families. I think it’s all too easy for parents (me included) to forget how much time our kids are actually logging on their PS4’s, Gameboys, and iPads.

I wonder if another reason these researchers found positive results is that gaming has become more “mainstream” and kids aren’t considered “weird” or “losers” anymore if they play video games on a regular basis. Many of my child clients tell me that they often play video games with their parents and siblings, making gaming less shameful in the eyes of parents. Additionally, many of the doctoral students that I work with at my University report gaming as a way to cope with the stress of graduate school.

It seems that more and more kids, parents, and successful young adults are finding ways to integrate gaming into normal, everyday life. Gaming has become just one of many possible choices to do during leisure time.

Gaming and social skills? Another point that I took away from this article (although this point was only touched on briefly in the actual article) is the fact that the “high usage” kids seemed to have fewer social difficulties is because modern video games are increasingly more interactive and social – and our kids aren’t necessarily playing with strangers anymore.

More and more kids that I talk to tell me that they’re playing these multiplayer games with their peers from school or family members like cousins or half-siblings.

I’ve even had kids tell me that they’ve been able to maintain friendships with friends who moved away – or even with parents or half-siblings that they only see part time – through regular gaming sessions.

Previous research has pointed out that video games with a multiplayer component promote skills that encourage kids to work together harmoniously in order to achieve a common goal. I think this new research article highlights this fact as well. Kids are learning how to strategize, communicate a strategy, and work together in the online world, and these skills are then translating to the real world as well.

One thing the research did not touch on. One thing that this article did not look at was whether or not the type of video game played by the child made a difference. For example, there is previous research showing a link between violent video games and aggression in kids. This survey did not report on whether or not they asked the families if these games were violent or not, so as Modern Parents we need to monitor not only the amount of time our kids spend gaming, but also the content in the games themselves.

Now, in no way am I advocating for 24/7 gaming for our kids, even in light of these new positive findings. What I am saying is that for families that choose to allow video games in the household, Modern Parents still need to create rules and standards regarding the activity and consequences if these rules and standards are broken.

Passive vs. Active Tech

Currently, the  American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no more than 2 hours of screen time (tv, ipad, video games, computers, etc.) per day for children, and I think that this guideline makes sense; however, there is emerging evidence that suggests that not all screen time is equal.

New findings suggest that there is a difference between tv viewing and computer and video game use. More specifically, these child development experts are noting that there is more cognitive and physiological activity when kids use the computer or video games (active screen time) than when they indifferently sit back and watch tv (passive screen time).

Their preliminary conclusions are that there appears to be a hierarchy of screen time activities and that future recommendations regarding screen time might need to be more specific in terms of time spent on different types of screen time.

What does this mean to you and your family? I think that there is more and more evidence that there is little benefit to watching tv, except for the fact that it provides an appropriate family “downtime” activity (families can’t be active 24/7). This activity should really be kept at a minimum.

However, there are more benefits to computer use and gaming, so these activities can be allowed more time – with parental supervision of course.

What You Need To Know About Setting Limits With Video Games

Below I describe the guidelines that I recommend to all of my private clients – I also follow these guidelines for my own family as well.

  • Know what type of games your child is playing – know the ratings of your child’s games and know what those ratings mean
  • Think through and communicate to your child how time spent on gaming be determined (i.e. set schedule, time is earned, only if homework is done and above a certain GPA, etc.)
  • Be aware if there is a subscription service or other “extras” that your child might want to buy for the game and have rules and guidelines set up to address these in advance so you do not get surprised by a huge bill
  • Monitor your child’s behavior and let it be known that if you see your child getting too angry, anxious, or intense about the game, then you have the right to cancel the gaming session immediately
  • Talk to your kids about the dangers of playing with strangers and encourage them to play only with people they know
Take Home Message

This new study allows Modern Parents to relax a little bit when it comes to allowing our kids to play video games, but it also serves as a reminder that we still need to be mindful of family rules regarding gaming.

Playing video games on the computer or through a handheld or home game console provides more social, cognitive, and physiological benefits than passively watching television, so allowing more time for gaming (rather than tv) might make sense for your family.

If you do decide to allow gaming in your family, make sure you create family rules and guidelines surrounding its use and always consistently follow through with consequences if these rules are broken. When Modern Parents take the time to carefully think through how gaming wisely fits into their family, then gaming can become one of many leisure activity options that does not harm your child.



Are You Using The 3 Important Elements That All Successful Modern Parent Use Religiously?

To Find Out, Download The Free Guide ==>

The Modern Parenting Blueprint: The 3 Elements That All Successful Modern Parents Use Religiously

The 4 Best Practices For Keeping Your Child Safe While Using Cell Phones and Social Media

The 4 Best Practices For Keeping Your Child Safe While Using Cell Phones and Social Media

Smart Modern Parents know that they cannot shield their kids from technology use – to do so would be a disservice to their kids, as technology is an important aspect to modern life.

Our kids will more than likely have to use technology as adults, so teaching them responsible use now in the safety of the family system is best in the long run.

Even smarter Modern Parents understand that it is best to teach their kids to control technology instead of letting technology control them. But the question remains: by letting our kids have access to technology (i.e. cell phones and the internet), are we exposing them to unnecessary dangers? How do we even start the process of teaching our kids safe and responsible tech use?


Our Modern Kids Are Never Far From Technology

Current statistics paint a picture where technology is at the modern family’s fingertips 24/7 – and kids are being exposed to television, cell phones, tablets, and computers at earlier and earlier ages. For example, the average age for a child to get their first cell phone is at 12 years of age.

Not only are kids using tech at very young ages, but tech is everywhere we look now. We can access the Internet on our computers, phones, tablets, in our cars, and now on our watches!

And if you think that our kids only have access to the internet while in our homes, then you are forgetting about the opportunity to access the internet at school, at friends’ houses, and even for free at the library!

Internet safety starts to become an issue when our kids reach middle school age. It is during this time that kids need to use the internet at school to access learning resources and at home to do reports. It is also during this time that social media sites start to become desirable to our preteens.

If we do not take control of our child’s technology use and teach our kids safe and responsible habits regarding technology, then we risk dangerous future consequences.

The following 4 points are my standard suggestions when discussing safe and responsible tech use to parents. If you implement these 4 suggestions, then you will set your child up for a lifetime of safe and responsible tech use.


1. Know the what, how, why, and how long of your child’s tech use. As a modern parent, it is important that you do not bury your head in the sand with regard to your child’s tech use. Be sure you know the following facts:

  • How – Know what tech devices your child is using. Do they have access to a computer, iPad, or smartphone? Do they have access to the internet on their gaming console? What about their eBook reader? The more you understand tech, the safer your child will be.
  • What – There are many uses for tech – surfing the internet, playing video games, communicating with other people through social media – and in order to monitor your child appropriately, you need to be aware of how they are using technology.
  • Why – Does your child need to use the computer to research and then write a paper for school? Are they keeping up with their friends on social media? What about playing an online game with strangers?
  • How Long – Always monitor how long your child uses tech – kids can mindlessly spend time playing games, watching YouTube videos about cats, or texting with friends if left unmonitored. Establish how much is too much for your child and make sure they stick to this time limit.


2. Set clear, reasonable guidelines for tech use. Make sure your child understands what is expected of them right from the start.

Every family has their own individual passions, values, and beliefs and it is your job as the parent to teach your child responsible tech use according to these core principles.In my experience with working with parents over the years, I have found that many well-meaning parents either don’t know how to talk to their kids about responsible tech use or they assume that their kids already know these crucial details.

To make talking to your kids about responsible tech use and internet safety easier for you, I have created 2 contracts that should make having these conversations with your child more effective: the Cell Phone Contract Between Parent and Child and the Social Media Contract Between Parent and Child.

These are free downloads for my readers and I encourage you to download them and share them with other parents.The best way to use these contracts is to view them as the starting point in your conversation with your child about responsible cell phone use and safe social media habits. Be sure that you modify the contracts by adding your personal values and beliefs regarding cell phones and social media use.


3. Monitor your child’s internet use. Scary fact: while a vast majority of teens (90%) say their parents trust them to be responsible online, 45% said they would change something about their online behavior if their parents were watching. That means almost half of kids having access to smartphones, tablets, and computers are possibly putting themselves at risk.

The take-home message here is that parents should be monitoring their kids more closely while they are accessing the Internet. On the bright side, the good news is that these same kids surveyed reported that they didn’t mind their parent monitoring their online activity and, in fact, that they were rarely bothered with a parent looking over their shoulder while they were online.

This tells me that our kids want the security of knowing that their parents will step in when needed to prevent them from getting into dangerous territory concerning online dangers. One recommendation that I often tell parents is to put internet security software on your child’s smartphones, tablets, and computers.

This way you can have the peace of mind of knowing that your child is safe from online predators, cyber bullies, pornography, and tech over-use – even when you are away from your child.


4. Model Tech use habits that are balanced and safe in front of your child at all times. The best way to teach your child to use technology safely and responsibly is to model this behavior in your everyday life. Make sure that you are:

  • Spending time with family and friends offline
  • Putting down your phone, tablet, or computer when talking with your family members
  • Don’t “hide” what you are doing on your tech devices – this suggests that you are doing things with tech that is not allowed in your family
  • Don’t isolate yourself with tech – watch movies, Netflix, etc with your family members
  • Basically, don’t do anything with tech in front of your child that you would not want them doing with their own tech devices.


Take-Home Message


Modern parents need to take their child’s tech use seriously. Set clear rules and expectations regarding tech use in your home and always monitor your child’s use of their smartphone, tablet, game console, and computer.Use the Cell Phone Contract Between Parent and Child and the Social Media Contract Between Parent and child to get the conversation started and be sure to update these contracts each year with your child as their maturity and responsibility increases.



Are You Using The 3 Important Elements That All Successful Modern Parent Use Religiously?

To Find Out, Download The Free Guide ==>

The Modern Parenting Blueprint: The 3 Elements That All Successful Modern Parents Use Religiously

Rule #3: Love It Or Hate It, Technology is Part of Modern Family Life

Rule #3: Love It Or Hate It, Technology is Part of Modern Family Life

Recently, I wrote a blog post about the value of blending traditional parenting techniques with modern parenting methods. While MODERN FAMILY MOMS and MODERN FAMILY DADS know that it is important to keep using the classic parenting techniques that work for their family, they also acknowledge that progress/change is inevitable and they must deal with this change.


Therefore, I feel that it is important to make the successful integration and use of technology as one of the rules for Modern Families.



There are many ways that technology can help to improve the closeness, efficiency, and overall enjoyment of the family. The following are several ways that I believe technology can help the family:

  • Family members are easy to contact through calling, texting, and/or social media messaging
  • Scheduling family activities with many different family members is made easier
  • Family entertainment options (i.e. movies, karaoke, games, etc.)
  • Educational advantages (i.e. online classes and/or tutorials, educational games, research for classes, etc.)
  • Staying in contact with extended family members who live far away is made much easier.

The advantages that I pointed out above are just some of the benefits and conveniences that modern technology gifts MODERN MOMS and MODERN DADS, but there are many more. If you rely on technology to help with your family, please tell us how you do his in the comment section below.

All of these technological modern conveniences are items that our parents did not have at their disposal when we were kids (my parents and I got our first cell phones when I went off to college), which means that it is up to our generation to set boundaries with technology. Technological boundaries will be different for every family based upon their family style as well as their own family priorities.

Personally, I have found that as a working mom with teenagers, I rely on cell phones to not only allow me to communicate instantly with my kids when I am away from them, but the fact that my kids have access to contact me in the case of an emergency when they are away from me, gives me much needed PEACE OF MIND.

Another advantage that I like about technology is the way that it helps with family time. ** ACKNOWLEDGMENT – using technology isn’t the only way to have family time, but it is ONE MORE OPTION to bring the family together for some fellowship and interaction. ** Through technology, my family has watched movies, had dance contests using the Wii, karaoke, etc.



As most people would acknowledge, technology definitely has its disadvantages for the family as well. Technology is a tool that can be used by parents either WISELY or FOOLISHLY – it depends on:

  • The purpose of its use
  • The balance of technology with non-technological means
  • The overall plan for using technology within the family.

So, let’s break these points down.


Technology does not benefit the family when the purpose for its use is either unclear or not defined, so make sure you know why you are allowing technology into the family.

For example, most parents these days have cell phones.  In addition, many kids these days have their own cell phones, too (some kids as young as 5 years old). The parental decision to allow your child to have a cell should serve a purpose that compliments the family’s priorities.

Some good reasons for allowing kids to have cell phones could be for the following reasons: for safety reasons when the kids are away from home; to communicate with kids when mom and/or dad are at work; to learn responsibility by having the child earn the money to buy the phone and pay the bill, etc.

Some poor reasons for allowing kids to have a cell would be so they can have the same things their friends have, so they will stop bugging you for a cell phone, and/or so you feel like a good parent.

Therefore, every MODERN MOM and MODERN DAD should be clear on WHY they allowing things like cell phones, TVs, laptops, iPads, game consoles, and hand-held gaming toys into the family. If you are clear on the purpose they serve in helping you to meet the family priorities, then allowing them into the home makes sense for your family.



The next factor to consider is once you decide that allowing technology into your family, how do you MAINTAIN IT EFFECTIVENESS IN YOUR FAMILY?

One way is to make sure that technology doesn’t take over your family time – make sure there is a balance between technology and old-fashioned face-to-face family time.

For the cell phone example, a good way to maintain balance with his item is to make sure that both parents AND kids are not over-using it.  Many families have rules regarding the cell phone use such as not using the phone during family dinners or other family bonding times. In this fashion, technology isn’t taking over family time – there is a time and place for technology.


So, as I have pointed out, technology sometimes can be overused, used for the wrong reasons, or could take over face-to-face family bonding time. Smart MODERN FAMILY MOMS and MODERN FAMILY DADS make a PLAN when introducing new technology into the home that includes clear boundaries for its use and specific and realistic consequences for boundary violations.

So, back to the cell phone example again. When giving a child a cell phone for the first time, a smart MODERN FAMILY MOM and MODERN FAMILY DAD would create a plan before giving the child the phone (and remember, the plan should compliment the family priorities).

When is the child allowed to use the phone? Only for emergencies? Only during certain times of the day? What are the rules for using the phone? What happens if the child breaks the rules? All of these things need to be thought out in advance.

Once the plan has been created, communicate the plan to the child and make sure they understand the rules and the consequences for breaking the rules. Above all, model appropriate behavior for your child and demonstrate that you can responsibly use technology yourself.



Therefore, the take-home message is this: MODERN FAMILY MOMS and MODERN FAMILY DADS only allow those technological items into the home that they feel helps the family live by the family priorities. Parents do not have to allow every new electronic “hot” item into the house – only those that make sense for the family.

Once technology is allowed in the home, make sure there is a clear plan for its use. It is a parent’s job to monitor the child’s behavior with technology, so factor in the time and energy it will take to monitor your child when considering buying this new item.

Finally, tell me and the other readers of PARENTING THE MODERN FAMILY your thoughts on successful families and technology. What forms of technology could you not live without? What do you not allow in your family? I would love to hear your thoughts!



Are You Using The 3 Important Elements That All Successful Modern Parent Use Religiously?

To Find Out, Download The Free Guide ==>

The Modern Parenting Blueprint: The 3 Elements That All Successful Modern Parents Use Religiously