To reduce the time your teenager spends on video games – or Facebook – firstly, agree on a time limit. Think about how much time you want your teenager to spend on video games, and then to talk to them about it – tell them why it’s bothering you. And work out between you an acceptable limit.
So say something like:
“I feel really worried about the time you’re spending on computer games. Because I’d love you to spend more time with me, with your friends and just doing other things. I’d like you just to go on the computer between 7 and 8 so you’re only spending an hour rather than the whole evening. And then you still have time to relax before you go to bed.” And then discuss it, and see what you can agree. But make sure you agree a set time.

Secondly, help them stick to the limit.
Computer games are addictive. Very few teenagers have the ability to turn a game off when they’re playing. It’s good if they can have an alarm with a 10 minute and a 5-minute warning. So ask them to set up alarms on their mobile phone, or they set a timer. They need to have an alarm otherwise it’s you telling them their time is up, and it sets you up as the controller which isn’t good. It’s far better to have their own phone as the regulator.
And you set a timer too, to make sure they’ve managed to stop. So five minutes after their time is up– stop what you’re doing and go into your teenager’s room. And stay there until the computer game is off. Go and chat to them and engage with them. Talk about the game they’ve been playing and what they are going to do now. And don’t leave until they start doing something else.

Finally, help them find other things to do. Whether it’s

  • hanging out with friends,
  • hobbies,
  • reading,
  • activities,
  • having family meals,
  • games,
  • jobs or
  • chatting with you.

It’s not your responsibility to entertain your teenager, but you can help them work out how they’ll spend their time when they’re not on their laptop or mobile.

So if you’re worried that your teenager is spending too much time on video games or Facebook, Three things you can do are:

  1. Agree on a time limit,
  2. Help them stick to the limit,
  3. And help them find other things to do.

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If you need more than three tips on this – or you’d like to discover the secrets you need to have happy well-behaved, children – please contact me by clicking here. You can arrange a free 20-minute (no obligation) chat to find out if working with me personally (by phone, Skype or face-to-face) would help you and your family. Contact Elizabeth

child behavioural expert
The author:

Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

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