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Setting Video Game Limits Without Arguing and
Teaching Financial Management Skills Along the Way!

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Grant and Tyler once argued so fiercely over a video game, I made them sit and play it together for 3 days straight. And while this was effective, I had to supervise. Something else had to be done!

Helping children learn how to do everything with "temperance" is tricky. Curbing video game play, especially when it is time to go back to school,  can be a frustrating and aggravating situation that can disrupt any household. With a little creativity, you can take care of limiting video game time while teaching additional skills such as budgeting and time management.

This technique, based on the Discipline Plan I used in my classroom, worked very well with our two video game enthusiasts. First of all, know this: technology is a part of everyday living and there are some very tangible rewards that come from playing video games. The WiiAmzon2 has been used in nursing homes all over the country to encourage the elderly to engage in physical activity and has even been found to help prevent falls.

However, the challenge is in teaching children how to balance video gaming with other responsibilities. Left unchecked, it can become an addiction, and can interfere with educational goals. It is important to teach children limits on video gaming, just like every other aspect of life.

The BASS Bucks System

During the school year, video gaming were only allowed from 6 PM Friday until 3 PM Sunday. Grant and Tyler both earned this time by taking care of chores and responsibilities during the week. Each Bass Buck was worth 15 minutes of video game time. They earned these bucks by reporting to school on time, bringing homework reports home for signatures, demonstrating good behavior, watching educational programs on television, all habits required for life-long learning success.  We also rewarded Bass Bucks for household chores because these habits are all needed for life-long learning success. We did not reward good grades as it is more important to teach learning for the sake of self improvement, not financial gain.

They could then redeem their Bass Bucks on the weekends for video game time. They could play for a maximum of 2 hours at a time and if they both wanted to play, both had to pay. No sharing or transferring of Bass Bucks was allowed.

HOW TO DISCOURAGE WEEKDAY TIME AS AGE INCREASES

Teach children the value of patience when it comes to financial management: When Grant and Tyler tried to purchase weekday time, we agreed, but always imposed a ridiculous, weekday, non-sale price that forced them to consider the value of their hard-earned dollars. I never recall either one ever accepting a higher price during the weekday when the weekend would be so much cheaper and Bass Bucks were hard to come by.

ENCOURAGE OUTSIDE PLAY

Limit video gaming to 2 hours per day during vacations and summer break. Bass Bucks were used throughout the year. Grant and Tyler were responsible for keeping track of this time by setting the kitchen timer.

Here is a step-by-step plan to help you get started:

hOW IT WORKS:

1)Start YOUNG.I hear many young parents proclaim difficulty in telling their young child(ren) "no" because they do not like the fallout that often follows. Well, get tough, parents. This sets a dangerous precedent that will interfere with adhering to guidelines later in life. Imposing video game limits encourages the development of a valuable life skill all children must learn: how to monitor their own behavior and properly compartmentalize their time (time management).

2) Develop a "valuable" currency for use in your home. If you create your bucks on the computer, you can use your own child(ren)'s faces on the "money" which always encourages cooperation and excitement!

3) Set a TOTAL WEEKLY PLAYING TIME and expect your child(ren) to work for them. Video gaming is a privilege, not a right.

Suggested guidelines for school terms:
Weekends only, and then only for a maximum of 6 EARNED hours for the entire weekend (from 6 pm Friday evening until 6 PM Sunday, 2 hours per day, with no "leftover credit".)

4) Plan the value of "Desirable Activities".

For example, washing dishes without prompting may be worth 1 Bass Buck.

Completing homework all week and giving it to a parent to check may be worth 5 Bass Bucks.

Note: You have creative control here but keep in mind that the easier the Bucks are to obtain, the lower their value. Include self-monitoring behaviors to encourage your children to take ownership of their responsibilities. For example, completing homework may be worth 1 Bass Buck but completing that same homework without any complaining may earn another Bass Buck. This is why it is important to jot down the behaviors you would like to see your child(ren) exhibit so their values are properly weighted.

5) Develop a regular price for video game time during the week and a sales price for the weekends. Remember -- teach patience can equate to better spending habits.

6) Explain the process carefully to your child(ren) and encourage participation in the development of activity guidelines and pricing (with your guidance and input).

Remember -- delivery of the plan is critical to success. Instead of describing this as a way to decrease video game time, advise your child(ren) that it is time for them to learn some new lessons as they mature.

7) Implement the plan (set a timerAmzon1 for video game time when purchased), evaluate periodically, and readjust as necessary. YOU know your children best. Execute your plan with enthusiasm and your children will follow.

You must be patient with yourself. Implementing any new procedure takes time. If it doesn't work as planned the first time, just re-evaluate and revise. Educators understand the importance of formative assessment. This means that you continue to evaluate and revise your plan as necessary. This is a practice, not unlike medical professionals. Nothing is set in stone. When working with children, it is a "day at a time" process.

Please note: Attempting to start a new practice is going to cause nothing short of mutiny if it is not properly timed and implemented. If you have allowed your child to play more video games than you would have liked, start planting the seed that a change will come soon. Set a target date or coincide with the current school term break.

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Professor Marsha

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Marsha Kay Bass, ABD


"It is easier to raise strong children than repair broken men. ~Frederick Douglass

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