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Controlling your child's video game usage: Five tips

January 08, 2012|By Scott J. Wilson, Los Angeles Times

If you've got a kid who plays video games, you probably have concerns that he or she (probably he) spends too much time on them and might be viewing content not to your liking. Here are some tips for controlling your child's video game usage.

• Play the games yourself: By doing so, you can check the content and talk it over with your child. "If you don't get involved and help kids learn to think critically about role models, activities and media content, then they're absorbing things unquestionably that you might want them to question," according to Common Sense Media, a nonprofit children and family advocacy group.

• Set a time limit and stick to it: "A reasonable limit is an hour of play on school nights and 2 hours a day on weekends," said the Children's Physician Network. Some televisions that are used to view the games have built-in timers.

• Set an example: Limit your own time on the TV, computer and smartphone, and make sure your children see you reading. "It'll be harder to teach your kids how to balance media usage if they don't see you doing the same," said Common Sense Media.

• Look at the ratings: Video games available for retail sale carry ratings from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. A rating of E ("everyone") is considered suitable for age 6 and up, T (teen) is for 13 and up, M (mature) is for 17 and older, and AO is adults-only.

• Write down the rules: Once you determine time limits and other policies for the kids, put them in writing. "Post it on a fridge or another central location, and make everyone aware of it," said the Disney Family site. (Disney produces video games). "There's no arguing with a policy — when kids protest, you just point to the paper and say, 'That's the policy.'"

scott.wilson@latimes.com

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