Our videogame rules

Well, the World Cup final game was played yesterday, but football carries on at our house, especially on the PSP. I bought the kids the FIFA 10 football videogame for the PSP, and they are absolutely loving it. They would play on the PSP all day if I let them -- but what kind of a parent would I be if I let them do that?

I may have relaxed my attitude towards videogames considerably in the last few years -- I can see how entertaining the PSP can be for them during car trips and vacations when the inevitable downtime occurs -- but I still believe in moderation and a balanced lifestyle. I believe the PSP can enhance, but not completely dominate, their entertainment options -- so I have some rules that the kids have to follow if they want to play on the PSP or any video game. These rules also apply to watching television or getting on the computer, so when I say "video games", I'm actually referring to any and all kinds of screen time.

1) No video games during playdates. I'm happy to have my kids play with/against each other but I want to respect other parents' rules with regards to video games, and I don't want any child to feel left out during a playdate while one or two are crowded around the screen.

2) Reading comes first. I ask my kids to read a book before they start playing video games. This is one of my favorite video game rules because it has really helped 3Po and Jammy improve their reading skills, and it's a great way for me to take a break from blogging and spend some quality time with them.

3) Get moving. This is just like rule #2, but with bikes instead of books. My sister asks her kids to pedal around on their bikes or scooters before they can get any screen time, and I liked it so much that I adopted a modified version of her rule. I just make sure my kids get some kind of physical activity every day.

4) Set limits. Our official limit is an hour a day for each child, but I'm not draconian about enforcing it, especially when we're on vacation or we're traveling (in the car or plane, etc..) or a child is sick in bed. In addition, the kids love watching each other play videogames almost as much as they love playing the games themselves, so they do get quite a lot of game time and they know when they've had enough.

I don't think there's anything too complicated about these rules; they're just common sense. You don't want to tire your eyes out with staring at a screen for too long, you don't want to live a sedentary lifestyle, and you don't want to let your electronic life rule your real life. And despite my kids' love for the PSP, I have never really had a problem enforcing these rules, so I'm hoping my kids realize it too.

Disclosure: I am participating in Sony's PSP Summer Family Fun blogger program; I received a "Summer Fun" kit which included a Sony Playstation Portable (PSP-3000) , an assortment of content (games and movies) for the PSP, as well as a journal and videocamera to capture our summer adventures. I have not been paid or required to review the product or give my opinions. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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