We have allowed video games into our home

by | How Would You Answer This? | 17 comments

How would you answer this — specifically the video game concern she has?


I have always homeschooled our two sons, who are now the ages of 14 and 16. Sadly, I am starting out extremely late in classical education, and I feel there is so much ground to cover. I am writing in hopes that you can lead me in the right direction so that I do not waste any more precious time.

Please tell me what and where you feel I should focus my attention concerning their education. I need a “jumping off” point. In the past, we have used a hodge-podge of curricula. I would like a consistent and clear path laid out before me, and through prayer, I felt led to contact you. With the ages of my boys in mind, what do you feel is a most critical focus for us, now and moving forward? Perhaps this has already been laid out in your book, which I do intend to buy, but like I stated, time is of the essence.

In addition, we have allowed video games into our home at a very young age, which we realized too late, has been a great detriment to them. From what I have read at your website concerning your children and their interests, it appears this is a snare you have managed (or chosen) to avoid, and I am deeply envious of that and saddened by our own situation here. Is there any wisdom you can share with me in turning this entire ship around–the video gaming in particular. If feels hopeless at times, as their hearts have become firmly attached to these games, and this is the only thing they desire to do when all their “required” activities are completed.

Sandra H., Hampton, Iowa


  1. Sarah

    My husband also enjoys video games, especially strategy ones, so we have always had them in our home, too. The way we handle it is simple. Every child gets 30 minutes of play a day, as a privilege, not a right. The privilege to play hinges on having their work and chores accomplished and there not being other things the family must accomplish together. So that means they don’t play every day.

    In the past, when the video game fever was interfering with their schoolwork or hobbies, we took a long break (weeks) from all screens to rekindle their love for the outdoors and books. Perhaps you may need to start there.

    I am not excusing us. I realize that video games and television do not help the development of my kids’ brains, but I will not overstep my husband’s choice to have them and his permission to let them play—with limits.

  2. jon

    Have the program their own video game, then they can play it as much as they like for x amount of days. Can’t make your own games? Then no play time!

    Really, I have no idea, Sarah’s suggestions sounds good. But being a programmer myself, I like the programming idea.

  3. Amanda

    Sort or like what Sarah suggested, we have a set amount of time that’s allowed per week. Time is a privilege, not a right. Additional time is earned via certain activities, which certainly can vary to suit the needs/goals of each family. We realize that gaming can become an idol but so can basketball or reading. We are open about encouraging a variety of hobbies/interests. Games have not been merely a “necessary evil.” There is some good in it, but it just needs to be managed like any other activity.

  4. Jonnia

    Limited screen time and treating it as a privelege does work for us.

    My ten-year old son is beginning to learn some simple coding in order to customize Minecraft and Roblox games. This is a skill which will be more important than most of us can grasp for this generation. I consider time spent on this to be learning, critical thinking, and problem solving practice.

  5. Shelly

    I can really empathize with you because we are going through the same thing with our children, but with computer time instead of video game time. Just yesterday I set up a new rule that they must spend at least 2 hours a day of productive activities (outside of schoolwork and chores) that do not involve electronics of any kind. I know 2 hours a day doesn’t sound like much, but I’m starting out with baby steps to help the transition.

  6. Amy

    We have video games in our home, but have a slightly different approach to them. First, the most controversial of the games, the war/battle games are only playing with my husband under direct supervision and at his discretion. I have no desire to play these and neither do a couple of my children, but a few of my children really enjoy this time with their papa. They only play on Saturdays after the work for the day is complete.

    During the school week, I have a designated time that the kids play specific learning games on the computer or ipad. These games usually coincide with our lessons in some way. The kids do actually learn a lot from these games as they teach states and capitals, geography of the countries, presidents, and even math facts or reading.

    Instead of giving the children a time every day for video games, I have found it works better for us to allow video games once a week. If given every day, the children seem to think about them and focus on them too much. I don’t want the highlight of their day to be video games. If they know video game time comes only once a week, they seem to forget about it in between. So free time on other days of the week is filled with productive activities like baking, sewing, reading, fun crafts/projects, etc. Still, the children must earn the right to play video games on the appointed day, by having all their required work done and done well. A child who shows a decline in progression through their lessons or performance or behavior, would lose video game privlages for some time.

    During breaks from school, we do let the kids have more video game time, but still limit it to a reasonable amount. The children never get video game time if their responsibilities are not taken care of.

  7. Victoria

    I take my kids video games away for periods of time when I feel they are using them too much. They are in the habit of living without them for long periods of time, so the break doesn’t cause much conflict. At their ages I would suggest getting them into programming. You could start with something simple like HTML.

  8. Kay

    Dear Sandra,

    I am so sorry. I can feel the pain and sorrow for your boys in your letter. Hold onto the fact that God is good and He can restore the years the locusts have eaten. Your boys’ video game obsession is a sign of a deeper issue. You are in a battle for their hearts and minds. So first, focus on their relationship with the Lord.

    Find something else for them to do. Mowing lawns, plowing fields, chopping wood, playing the drums – ask God to help you find something that involves muscles and burning energy. In addition, get them involved in something that is bigger than they are – something to give them purpose. We are part of the Institute for Cultural Communicators (iccinc.org) and our children spend a lot of time preparing to change the world for Christ. Check it out – maybe there’s a chapter near you.

    Read “Playstation Nation.” I heard the author on Christian radio years ago. Her sons were addicted to video games. I think you would find it very helpful since she’s been there and understands what you are experiencing.

    Beware of making video game time the goal. We have four children, all at home – daughter, 21; son, 17, daughter, 14; daughter 9. We do not have a game console; computer game time is extremely limited (1 hour per child per week; 20 minutes per day maximum; no watching siblings; use it or lose it). We intentionally did not make it a privilege that could be “won” or “lost” – that makes it too important. It’s just something they can choose to do if they want to (the time usually goes unused).

    “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

    In Christ,

  9. Melanie

    Hi there! My kids play video games as well. I would have loved to ban them completely but my husband wouldn’t agree!

    We also limit the amount of screen time each day. My 17 yr. old gets an hour and my 11 yr. old 30 minutes. Just like a previous poster mentioned, they are not allowed to play until all school, chores and other responsibilities are taken care of.

    The biggest thing that’s helped in our home is delight directed learning and staying busy with projects and activities. My son has a part time job, his schoolwork, is in a band and we really encourage active, outdoor activities instead of indoor, passive ones. As a result, he would much rather be hunting, fishing, working with horses, etc.than playing video games.

    My daughter is reqired to complete the more mechanical subjects and is then free to follow her own interests for several hours each day. This delight directed learning method has caused her to get so sucked into a subject or project that she doesn’t even think about video game time until the evening.

    This is how we’ve tamed the video game monster in my house! Trust me, it took a lot of time and struggling for us to get to this place. My son really fought with video game addiction when he was younger and would’ve played all day if allowed!

  10. Mrs. R.

    Are video games bad? Well, I believe it heavily depends upon 2 main points. 1. What type of game your child is playing and 2. The amount of time your child spends playing the game.

    If you let your young child play a game like RESISTANCE expect nightmares and possibly higher aggression levels. Allowing long durations of play will generally hurt your young child’s want for imaginative play and could hamper their socialization with friends & family.

    We are not against gaming but the 2 points mentioned above have strict rules in our home. I choose the games and the amount of time allotted for play. Also, bad behavior means consequences for the child’s actions and losing the ability to play a favorite game sure beats the time out method!

    I have always believed a child should be able to navigate the computer and other devices such as the Kindle we have in our home. There are educational apps available as well as Wii games that get you up and active. My son’s current favorite is on the Kindle, it’s called WHERE’S MY WATER by Disney and I have to say my boy is learning and having a ton of fun too!

    Some other positives I have encountered are

    Learning teamwork to accomplish a goal.
    Keeping the competitive spirit in check and not getting too carried away-that it is just a game.
    They have learned that if at first you don’t succeed try again and if it was too easy it would be boring.

    I found an interesting article that you probably already heard of. The link is below. Technology today can be a positive avenue for teaching, an opportunity that should not be dismissed and gaming has become a small part of this learning process.

  11. Rhonda

    We also allow video games, starting as soon as they are interested in playing. The only limitation they have is, schoolwork & household work must be done first. Some days, all they want to do is play video games, other days they are only interested in their other hobbies. It balances out. We do monitor the type of video games they play, and we have (rarely) banned them from video games as discipline. Personally, I do not have any general concerns over video games, although every family and individual is different.

  12. Andrea

    I love the idea of requiring the children to create their own games. Also, limiting the collection to only games that will reinforce what they’re studying, limiting to certain times of day/week, limits are smart and healthful.
    When I realized my boys (14 and 15 yrs old)
    were spending too much time on the electronic games, I told them they could spend as much time on any electronic devices (combined) as they spend reading the Bible. Well! For the first few days, they were up all night reading the Bible. Then I overheard their conversations: they were talking for hours every day about what they had read in the Bible! They were finding all these great stories and verses that we don’t always hear. Know how sometimes when children see a movie and then they often quote the funny or foolish lines from the movie? Well, my boys were quoting lines from the Bible instead! Since that point, they have been growing so much in their walk with the Lord.
    Maybe the results wouldn’t be the same in every situation, but this method certainly couldn’t hurt anyone.

  13. Mchele

    I feel bad for you because it sounds like you wish you could get away from the games completely. We don’t watch tv anymore and just don’t have any screen time except an occasional movie. If someone would have told me I’d be doing that 9 years ago I’d think that was 1) impossible and 2) strange. But, we just happened upon a series of experiences that led us there and I’m so grateful. We still run into friends of our 8 and 5 year old asking for video time at our house and we just have to work hard to be fun the old fashioned way.
    I don’t know what you feel up to…but I bet given the choice there are activities they’d loved to do with you and friends or alone …explore them…if you have a swimmer ( family swim Tuesdays), if you have a baker ( grocery shop for special items and bake)….your message seems like you are looking for a different option. It’s out there it’s just hard to fight that celluloid. Surprise them…do something they are excited to see you do and do with them. That’s where I’d start.
    Good luck!

  14. D.Scott

    We have two boys similar in age to yours. I found two things helpful.

    1. If I could get a boy to do absolutely anything just so he could keep internet then so could anyone else. We had a problem. We went without internet in the house for two months and accessed Facebook and a web business once a week at a coffee shop.

    2. When life is active and engaging at home then internet is not a problem. When younger sibs. are whiny and I am overwhelmed everyone, including me, wants a place to escape : ( Screens are just Oh so easy! A $165 dollar fix for this was a leaf mulcher/ blower. The kids did a business clearing leaves and I found a terrific form of stress relief. Plus!!they used their money to buy me really nice Christmas presents.

    Hope you find just as positive of a solution : )

  15. Nancy

    I have one piece of advice to add from my older sons (23 & 20): have your sons play video games on a computer rather than an X-box or similar item. The reason for this is so that they will learn how to debug their computers and will be motivated to learn how to program. Both our young men are very competent on computers, one in video editing among other things, and the other is working on a computer science degree. All of this was self-taught because they wanted to play and modify the games they had. They rarely play games anymore and are instead trying to develop one of their own. We severely limited all screen time until they were 10 and 12, which helped them to use their imaginations as little boys. I worried at times that they would become video game junkies but am happy that they have learned to use their computer skills in productive ways. And yes, we did limit their time playing games when they were younger. One last thought: talk to your boys about your concerns and poll them on what they think should be done about it. Get them engaged with the problem rather than just making it all come from you. God bless your efforts!

  16. Michelle

    What is a “reasonable amount of time” allowed for computer games, or the Wii? It is a sore spot for me, so we set 2 timers: the first to go off at 55 minutes & the next at 60 minutes. This gives them a forewarning that they need to be wrapping it up, and not to start a new session. This still seems like too much time on a Wii game (2 children), but shorter times seem to frustrate them.

    • LaurieBluedorn

      What is the total amount per day of screen time you allow them (TV, movies, computer games, Wii, etc.)?


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