How To Get Your Child To Stop Playing Video Games?

I have a little cousin who absolutely loves video games, specifically games like Fortnite and Call of Duty -- you know, the "big boy" games.

He never really cared for flash games you can find in your internet browser or even the "kiddy" games his parents bought him. He doesn't even appreciate retro games! Nope, he skipped all of that and went straight to what the teenagers and adults are playing.

And like most video game obsessed children, he is very stubborn about doing other things. It's difficult to pull him away from the controller. And when he's not playing video games, it's the only thing he seems to talk about.

He'll keep asking if he can play, even if we're gathered as a family doing other supposedly "fun" things. And as a hardcore gamer, I can understand why! It's because his love for video games DWARFS doing anything else, even if the rest of us think it's fun and worthwhile doing.

If you're a parent of a child like this, I can understand how this situation can be frustrating and even scary and it's hard to handle if you don't understand what being a hardcore gamer means.

Young man staring at blank screen, hardcore gamer, addicted

Children Like This Are Hardcore Gamers

Children love video games because they're satisfying to play. It triggers their "reward" system in their brains, ESPECIALLY for kids who deal with ADHD. A lot of parents underestimate video games and reduce them down to mindless "fun". 

They go beyond fun. 

So when you "force" them to step away from the screen and do something else, it sucks because their rewards are being taken away and there's a lot of miscommunication happening. 

So it's necessary to explain why it's important to do other things besides playing video games. These things consist of the "boring" stuff like: 
  • Getting their homework done
  • Doing their chores
  • Getting their daily exercise in 
  • And increasing their skill in another hobby

Without the proper explanation and guidance as to why your child shouldn't spend their entire day on Fortnite, he's going to see you as a tyrant who won't let him do what he enjoys doing. But you're not a tyrant, it's crucial for your child to take care of his responsibilities and understand why it's important for him to do so. 

He needs to understand video games aren't bad for him, but he can easily fall prey to video game addiction, something I talk about at length in How Do You Overcome Video Game Addiction.

Video game controller, lots of shadows and contrast, stop playing

Why Do Hardcore Gamers Love Video Games?

As a parent, if you weren't a hardcore gamer growing up, you wouldn't really understand what it means to be one and what we get out of video games (it's far more than what casual gamers get out of the hobby). 

Gaming gives us the ability to compete against others, so we take it as seriously as hardcore sports fans take their games. We're able to explore worlds and be other things we can't possibly be in real life, so it engages us on deeper levels. 

And as hardcore gamers, we eventually get good (in fact, really good) at video games and it's satisfying to do something you excel at. 

Don't forget about the gaming community either! Gaming really has its own culture and language (or at the very least "lingo"). But as hardcore gamers, we really do belong in a community. When you meet another gamer, you can relate to them and talk to them and feel a connection of sorts. Many times I get along great with other gamers, not that we don't have our fair share of rotten eggs. 

The whole point for this section is to tell you this: Gaming is more than "fun" to a hardcore gamer, it goes far deeper than that for us. And whether you like it or not, your child may be one of us. 

That means gaming is part of his identity.

Child holding a video game controller

So What Can I Do To Stop Him Playing Video Games So Much?

You came here for actionable advice and it's very simple what needs to be done. 

Don't allow your child to play video games UNTIL he has completed all of his chores and homework for the day. Don't overwhelm him on chores because he's just a kid and the amount of "responsibilities" he can handle on a daily basis is far lower than yours. 

He should have enough chores that you feel he is doing his fair share around the house and no more than that. Any more chores you want to give him should come with a reward. 

So that's the first step. He can't play ANY video games or watch TV or goof off on his phone or computer UNTIL his homework is done and all of his chores are completed. 

And when he has done those two things, he is allowed to spend two hours playing video games and no more. Even though his responsibilities are completed, he shouldn't spend all his time gaming because that can lead to video game addiction. 

The amount of time he's allowed to play can vary depending on what's acceptable to you, but I think just one hour a day is far too low. That hour goes by really fast and he'll view you as a tyrant and not being fair. So my recommendation is at least 1.5 hours a day, but I think 2 hours a day is perfect for a young hardcore gamer. 

It's important to keep your rules simple and short, no need to make this complicated. It's also important for your child to prove he's completed his daily responsibilities for two reasons:
  • It keeps him accountable and gives you peace of mind
  • This is an opportunity for you to praise him and even reward him a bit

Profile view of young boy

There Needs To Be Consequences If Your Rules Aren't Obeyed

The next step is to make it clear to him that these rules are fair. And that if he doesn't follow these two rules, he will be punished. Again, you shouldn't be a tyrant about it, but you need to be firm

If he doesn't follow your two rules, he's not allowed to play video games for the rest of the day. He can play them again the next day, but only after his chores are done and his homework is completed. 

If he makes a fuss about having to take care of his daily responsibilities, you should punish him by reducing his play time down incrementally. So if he has to be told to do his chores and homework, he gets 15 minutes of game time taken away. 

If he stomps his feet and whines, that's another 15 minutes of game time taken away. Reiterate to him that you have only two rules when it comes to video games and those two rules are fair

The ideal outcome of all this is your child will come home from school and get started on his responsibilities immediately, without being told. Remember, he's not allowed to watch TV, goof off on his phone/tablet or computer -- none of that. 

And since he can't play video games until his chores and homework are done, his only option is to sit around being bored. 

That all seems fair, right? 

Have stern, but simple rules. Punish behavior you don't want to see, reward behavior you do want to see. So if he's been really good about following your rules all week, you can reward him with an extra hour of playing video games when it's Friday!

Oh and the last "actionable" thing you can do is keep your child's "gaming" stuff in the living room or anywhere you can easily monitor him. This will help keep him accountable for doing his chores and homework, he can't just run into his cave and try to "get away" with disobeying your rules.

Plus it's a good thing to be able to hear what he's saying if he's playing any online games. You would not believe the things little kids say when they're in an online game. They feel they can say and do anything since they're anonymous -- well as anonymous as you can be these days.

Young boy with his face in his hands, defeated and sad

Do You Want Your Child To Stop Playing Video Games Completely?

What is your end goal as a parent? 

Do you want your child to stop gaming completely? Speaking as a hardcore gamer, I don't recommend this at all (unless you're willing to spend lots of time, energy, and money to help your child explore the world of Video Game Alternatives). 

For some reason, video games get a really bad reputation. People with dishonest agendas use video games as a scapegoat to explain the awful behavior children and young adults exhibit. Well I hate to be another drop in the ocean, but there are no credible studies that prove video games make children violent. 

You know what video games do? 

They give children and young adults an outlet to express their aggression so that they don't keep it inside themselves. Video games give them challenges to push against and conquer. Video games are a godsend to children with high levels of energy and aggression. 

But hey, I do understand if that's what you really want for your child. The official stance I take on this website is... video games are awesome and as long as your life is balanced and the important things are taken care of, gaming is a worthwhile hobby. 

But it takes all kinds to make up a world. So if you want your child to stop playing video games, help him explore other hobbies that are available.

Lightbulb with idea bubbles around it, brainstorm, thinking, alternatives

There Are Tons Of Things To Do Besides Playing Video Games

Okay so if you're 100% sure you want your child to stop playing video games, you HAVE to help him find other things to do, otherwise what do you expect the kid to do? I'll tell you what he'll end up doing. He's going to:
  • Watch Youtube videos about gaming
  • Sit on the couch and watch TV like a zombie (his mind's not being as stimulated as he wants it to be)
  • Be irritable and BORED out of his mind

So don't do that to your kid. If he's obsessed with video games, it's because he found something he can fall in love with. And I bet that's the first time that's happened to him. 

I bet you it'll happen again with another hobby too though. 

Set your child up for success by helping him explore alternatives to video games. Even if you're okay with him playing video games on a daily basis, he should have at least one or two more hobbies to do. 

This won't be an easy undertaking and it might take a while, but there are lots of things available to him. I already linked to my Top Ten Video Game Alternatives list earlier, but you should sit down with your child and also read this: Things Kids Can Do Instead Of Video Games

Here is a quick list of things most kids would be into:

My best piece of advice for a parent whose child is a hardcore gamer is to put him on just ONE thing to get good at and that will be enough to set him up for success in the future. 

I'm serious about that. 

Put him on the path to master just one thing. Have him commit himself to do that one thing every day for at least an hour. That could be piano lessons, drumming lessons, martial arts, drawing, singing, gardening, writing, learning another language -- anything. 

This is like planting a fruit tree today.

Young man looking up at lots of papers on wall, thinking, productivity, video game alternatives

Don't Be Afraid If Your Child Is Obsessed With Video Games

I understand this situation is frustrating, but if you do what we talked about earlier, things will improve greatly and quickly. 

And as it turns out, your child being a hardcore gamer is a blessing in disguise. It can lead him down tons of great roads in life. One day, your child might enter the video game industry, either as a creator or even a pro gamer! 

To add to this, being passionate about gaming will teach him how to master something. And when he understands how to learn something, learn its fundamentals, and practice until he's really good at it, he can take those skills and that wisdom and apply it to any realm of life. 

So don't be afraid. 

Hardcore gamers are smart and driven to succeed. And with the right parenting, that can transform him into a powerful and successful person. 

Thank you so much for reading my blog! I hope it helps and I hope you bookmark it so you can return in times of need!