Care and Concern

Be sure to encourage the fruits of the Spirit outside of video gaming, because you will rarely find them within video gaming! Care and compassion, courtesy and respect, peacefulness and gentleness are not ESRB ratings!

Pressing the Reward Button for Positive Feedback: Part 2

316595668 bfc0e502a3 - Pressing the Reward Button for Positive Feedback: Part 2

316595668 bfc0e502a3 - Pressing the Reward Button for Positive Feedback: Part 2This post was updated 2/18/2019. Enjoy!

In a similarly named post, I mentioned the repetitive, intangible rewards children “earn” through playing video games.  Their desire for positive feedback and rewards becomes incited to the point of obsession. What if, instead, they became more interested in gaining positive feedback from following God and engaging with the people God made for that purpose?

It is not too early to nudge your child toward pleasing God through loving and serving people and not toward serving a virtual technological scorekeeper. After all, Ephesians 5:30 reminds us that “we are members of his body.”  We will want to train our children to act like it.

Offering Positive Feedback of the Human Variety

Think about the amount of time in a week your child interacts with technology versus with you (or others).   If human contact is inadequate, they may become more accustomed to satisfying their gadget’s commands and goals. They may be less inclined to serve their parents and other people for God’s purposes.  Consider if, in your child, positive feedback garnered from technology diminishes their desire for positive feedback from family and friends.  The people around them may become more unnecessary than people are supposed to be.

You can offer positive feedback of the tangible human variety. You can be a source that satisfies their innate need for attention and affirmation. Hopefully you are a better source than their computer.  By some statistics, 70% of parents believe video games can be a positive influence in their kids’ lives (www.theesa.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/EF2018_FINAL.pdf).  Yet still, as a parent you want to be a key source.  Verbally reward them with positive feedback for what they do well (“the patio you swept looks great!”).  Reward them with your time for attending to their church or school obligations (“do you want to throw a football?…learn how to make those cupcakes you love?”).  They may just learn to appreciate your recognition so much that they work harder to earn it. This may result in less time for excessive video game play.

Positive Rewards Outside of Video Games

Human connection–particularly our connection to our kids and their connection with us–is vital to serving God. And although games offer “…a comforting mix of structure, repetition, challenge, and adventure,” according to Digital Divide: Real Christianity in a Digital World” (p. 44, 2011, Abingdon Press), developing sustaining human connections is vital.  Can you help your child find a “comforting mix of structure, repetition, challenge and adventure” in their “real” life outside of video games? For example:

  • structure a weekly play date or bible study group
  • play his favorite board game or make her favorite snack together and repeat regularly
  • introduce a new skill to learn
  • explore your community for adventure.

These ideas would result in less open time to fill with an impersonal technical life.  In 1 Corinthians Paul mentioned coming “in love and with a gentle spirit.” We would be serving our children well to come alongside their technical inclinations in the same manner. To offer them positive feedback and rewards that only parents and community can give.

You may want to read the first post in this series: https://www.christiantechkids.com/2012/05/12/pressing-the-reward-button/

Photo cc - Pressing the Reward Button for Positive Feedback: Part 2 Mike Schmid via Compfight

 

Pressing the Reward Button: Video Game Addiction

Trophies that symbolize diversions from technology to mitigate video game addiction

3777015632 1126353f77 - Pressing the Reward Button: Video Game AddictionPlaying Too Many Video Games?

Do you feel like your child is acquiring a video game addiction? If he has played video games for any length of time, you have probably noticed that they seem very eager to do it again. It’s become a habit. What’s more, it may be a quality of desire that may seem different from other childhood desires–more insistent, urgent, almost serious. Because of what this may lead to, develop your awareness of early signs of video game addiction. I don’t mean addiction in a proven, scientific sense, but in the parental one. You know, as a parent, when your child seems to have an unhelpful level of desire, a distracting habit. This is your chance to create a diversion from technology.

To this end, notice the next time they ask to play another video game. Compare it to their request to ride their bike again (if they even ask that anymore). You may sense the vaguest tone of desperation in their voice.

What this means to me is that the child’s reward facility in their brain has been visited one too many times. For example, your child may have earned “achievements,” acquired points, achieved high scores and attained new levels. If you allow shooter games, they may have earned high KDR’s (kill death ratios). Each time, they seem to be creating an urge for more video game “success.”

Addiction to Stimulation

The repetitive, intangible rewards earned through video gaming have a not invisible effect on the modern child. In short, an addiction to stimulation seems quickly pressed into their personality. It may be time to create a diversion from technology.

What can you do?  Ameliorate this desire for video game stimulation–blossoming video game addiction–by diversifying your child’s experiences.  For example, today I asked my son to return a few overdue library books. His friend tagged along. They rode their scooters, had some youthful freedom, stopped at the corner store for a snack on the way home, and got out into nature and sunshine. Would he have preferred to continue playing video games? Yes. Was the diversion from technology helpful? Yes.  Does his soul thank me for the break? Yes. Whatever you would consider an appropriate diversion from technology, find a way to incorporate it into your child’s day. Help him create new habits of being.

Diversion from Technology

Be assured, children do need your help with this. Even at their young ages, they are coming under the sway of technology’s addictive aspects. Maybe they are even mimicking mom and dad in this regard. For this reason, you need to be the adult power who can properly direct their activities away from the computer for valuable other life experiences–and turn KDR into a Kid who’s Developing Reasonably.

To read more on this topic, go to Pressing the Reward Button: Part 2 .

To read a more humorous angle, go to https://www.christiantechkids.com/2013/08/28/top-ten-ways-to-discourage-video-game-addiction/

Photo cc - Pressing the Reward Button: Video Game Addiction Brad.K via Compfight