Title: How do I get my kid to stop playing video games in class?
00:00:01 Speaker 1
How do you stop your kid from playing video games in class? Well, we're talking about that today
on tips on teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and
I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families live happier lives. I lead two organizations
teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501 c three organization, child and Teen Counseling,
both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump onto Facebook Live
to answer your parenting questions. Let's jump into today's. My 14 year old son always plays
online video games on his school computer, sometimes during class or while he does homework.
We figured it out when we checked his browser history. We tried telling him to focus on finishing
his homework and then he could have 30 minutes free time, but it didn't work. We could install
a monitoring software on the computer, but we really hope he can control himself not to play
online games during school or homework. Someday we won't be able
00:01:05 Speaker 1
to control him when he goes off to college. What should we do now? Thank you for your question.
I think it's a very popular question among parents. I talk to parents about this all the time.
So first I want to talk to you about, first of all, video games. There's nothing as fun as a video
game, and I say this a lot, but it's really worth repeating. There is nothing on earth as fun as
a video game. So when your kid is sitting there and he can either do his algebra or he can go play
video games, it's so much easier to go play video games again because he has a developing prefrontal
cortex. What is that? It's part of the brain. It's right here behind the forehead. It controls
what we call the executive functioning of the brain. Impulse control, emotional regulation,
the ability to see cause and effect, all the things that makes up a mature, responsible adult.
Well, that is just developing when you're a teenager. So it's not fully wired into everything
else. What's really wired, what's really
00:02:02 Speaker 1
at full strengthening the brain at 14 is the limbic system, which is handles like primary emotional
stimulation anger, fear, excitement, except full throttle. So imagine your kid's brain.
The limbic system is a herd of wild buffalo stampeding through the plane, right? And the prefrontal
cortex is little old man with a stop sign. He may want to stop the stampede. It's just really hard
to do it by himself. He's going to get run over. And so that's why when you go into his room and you
see him playing Minecraft, you say, what are you doing? I told you not to play Minecraft. Do your
algebra. Why are you doing this? He says, I don't know. Because he doesn't know. He didn't think
about it. He really doesn't know. And much like us, we're all impulsive too. I'm impulsive.
I don't know about you, but I love ice cream. Anybody here love ice cream? I love ice cream. If
I have ice cream in the house, I know I'm going to eat it. Not only I'm going to eat it, I'm going
to eat the whole pint because I
00:02:55 Speaker 1
want to get out of the house faster and which makes me want to go buy more ice cream. So for me, if
I don't want to eat ice cream, I don't have ice cream in the house, therefore I can't eat it. I got
to find something else. So with your son, you may need to invest in that software monitoring
or limiting for his computer because he's not going to be able to control himself. And also,
30 minutes afterwards, it's like nothing. 30 minutes in a video game is a blink of an eye. Now,
you may argue, hey, that's enough. That's too much. Whatever you want to argue. But from his
fortune point of view, 30 minutes is like nothing because all his friends are probably on for
hours and hours. I'm not condoning that. I'm just pointing out a reality in our culture. So you
may need to have some bumpers around him, because eventually he will go off to college. But he'll
have a more developed prefrontal cortex, and he may have more direction and more purpose in
what he wants to do, and he may be able to monitor
00:03:50 Speaker 1
it more easily as a young adult. No guarantees, but the 18 or 19 year old version of your son is
going to be more able to control his impulses than the 14 year old one is. So I think you need to
talk to him about what motivates him, what he feels is fair with video games. Find a reasonable
middle ground of when he can play video games and when he cannot. And when he cannot. You have
to have some kind of monitoring mechanism to make sure that he's not. So if you have this monitoring
software, you have to have a real concrete plan that you guys made when you're calm and rational
of how to proceed. If you don't have a plan and you find him on minecraft, you're going to blow
up and you're going to have a big argument, and it's not going to go anywhere. Well, you have to
make sure you have a plan that you made when you were calm and make sure your son has a voice in this
plan. If you just throw an edict down, he's not going to follow it because he doesn't care. Make
sure he has a voice. Make
00:04:45 Speaker 1
sure he's heard. Make sure he has some kind of a spoon in the pot. So you guys are all stirring the
same direction. Anyways, that's your question for today. I'll be out next week, so I'll see
you guys in two weeks on Tips on teens. Again. My name is Kent Toussaint from Teen Therapy Center
and tips on teens. If you want me to answer your question in two weeks, email us at tipson firstname.lastname@example.org
or you can direct message us right here on Facebook. Keep your questions coming. We love them.
And I'll see you guys in two weeks. Bye bye.
Cause and Effect
Why can’t you just ask your kid to stop playing video games during school or while they’re doing their homework? They should be able to see why it’s counterproductive right? Wrong!
Parts of your teenager’s brain are still developing. That means that their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls executive functions, is still under construction. Therefore their ability to self regulate is pretty limited. Skills like impulse control, ability to see cause and effect, etc, just aren’t there yet.
adult solutions may have to wait until adulthood
We get it, you want to be able to negotiate an adult solution with your teenager to get them to stop playing video games. The problem is, they’re probably not capable of doing that yet. Therefore you’ll likely have to invest in some sort of monitoring software or put some “bumpers” in place.
By the time your kid goes off to college they’ll hopefully have a more developed prefrontal cortex, and therefore more capable of self monitoring. There’s more to talk about, and we get to it all in this Tips on Teens:
“My 14 year old son always plays online video games on his school computer, sometimes during class or while he does homework. We figured it out when we checked his browser history. We tried telling him to focus on finishing his homework and then he could have 30 minutes free time but it didn’t work. We could install a monitoring software on the computer, but we really hope he can control himself not to play online games during school or homework. Someday we won’t be able to control him when he goes to college. What should we do now?”
Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. We love to hear from you!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.