How to Stop Arguing with Your Teen About Video Games

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Are you exhausted from arguments about your teen or young adult’s gaming use?

Have you ever asked them to come for dinner… only to hear “one more minute!?”

We all know what happens next.

One minute turns into two, and then ten, and then twenty, and now your simple request for them to join the family for dinner has turned into a full blown fight.

You’re tired of nagging them to do basic things, of having simple requests turn into an all-out war.

They are a teenager, and you have become a babysitter.

If you’ve experienced any of the above, then this article is for you.

I will share a simple trick that will reduce the amount of arguments you have about their video games. It will seem obvious when I say it.

Not only that, but this trick will also help you build rapport, which is really important to help your teen or young adult reduce their gaming, and get their life back on track.

Video Game Addiction Quiz for Parents

When it comes to reducing their gaming time, you have two options:

  1. Remove their access.
  2. Enroll them in making positive changes.

If you are going with the latter then building rapport is essential. Rapport creates trust, and trust creates leverage. Leverage creates the opportunity for transformation.

The easiest way to build more rapport is to learn more about why they game. In previous articles I’ve shared the reasons why your son or daughter is drawn to gaming, but today I want to take that a step further.

I want you to learn more about the specific games they play, and how these games operate.

The reason this is important is because when you understand more about the games your son or daughter plays, it shows them you know what you are talking about. It will help you become an ally, someone on their team, instead of an adversary who ‘just doesn’t get it‘.

It will also help you navigate requests like for them to join you for dinner. For instance, did you know that most games have ‘natural pauses’ built into the game? This means there are opportunities in the game for your son or daughter to save the game, and not lose their progress.

Why They Refuse to Come for Dinner

The reason you meet so much resistance when you ask your son or daughter to come for dinner is because they are likely in the midst of a part of the game where they are unable to quit without losing progress. Or worse, if they are playing with other players (which most of them do), if they leave in the middle of the game, they ruin it for everyone else.

When games are a way to gain social status and prestige, ruining the game for everyone else is social suicide. Compare that to having one more argument with their parents – who don’t get it anyways – and you can see why it’s easy for them to justify their gaming.

Their reputation amongst their peers is far more important – no offense.

To avoid this scenario, learn more about the games they play and how they operate. For instance, are they playing a game where they play ‘matches’ with other players? This means there is a battle and usually, set time limit to the game. Let’s say that time limit is 30 minutes.

You know dinner is coming up so you let them know after this match they need to save and stop playing so they can come for dinner. Otherwise, if you ask them to come for dinner in the middle of the match you will meet a lot of resistance.

And you let them know that if they do start a new game then you will be turning off the wifi and they will lose their progress, and it will make them look bad in front of their peers. You let them know that you know how the game works.

Practical Steps

So how do you learn more about the types of games they play, and how these games operate?

First, ask them what games they play. What are they called? Do they play against other players? Do they have matches? How do the games work?

Next, you want to type the name of the game into YouTube with ‘gameplay’. For instance, if they play League of Legends, type ‘League of Legends gameplay’ or ‘League of Legends walkthrough’. There are thousands of videos on YouTube that will show you the game and how they operate. Look for if they have natural pauses, or ‘matches’.

Finally, next time you’re getting dinner ready, or you have another request for them, implement this advice. Ask them if they are in the middle of the match and how long it will take. Let them know they need to save the game at the end and they can come back to it later. Help them avoid losing their progress or social status. It will be a war to win that battle otherwise.

Although this trick will work well for a lot of parents, everyone’s situation is different, and if you feel their gaming is completely out of control, you may need to focus more on removing their access all together. Doing so requires sensitivity to the situation, and I always recommend to do so with the support of a professional.

Join our Support Group for Parents on Facebook for more support.

To learn more about video game addiction and how to reclaim your teenager or young adult, grab my parent’s guide.

Digital Detox Summercamp?

Spring break is here which means summer is just around the corner. One of the best ways to help your teenager get off screens this summer is by sending them to Reset! They will reconnect with nature, make new friends, and learn about the power of habits.

I’m an advisor to Reset Summercamps.