Question about how to handle video games

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-12-2007
Question about how to handle video games
Sun, 07-13-2008 - 11:19pm

Hello! I'm new here and am in need of some advice for my 13yr old with Aspergers. My son is very, very argumentative and negative. He isn't the quiet type - instead he is overly loud and has frequent meltdowns. Pretty much since the day he was introduced to video games, they became an obsession. Actually, I would really call it an addiction. Anyway, it is clear to me that the video games are preventing him from interacting with people - which in turn is causing him to be depressed because he never gets out there to make any friends. Whenever I try to put restrictions on the video games, it just becomes a NON-STOP argument about why he should have them back...he basically badgers me until I either give in or completely lose my temper.

I know that part of the problem is that I need to regulate them better. But it is very frustrating that he will just make everyone in the house miserable until he gets them. I have had a schedule before, but I always run into problems like him sneaking to play when I'm not home, arguing with me about the schedule, or meltdowns and tantrums about how he is miserable without them. Its like even though it is an obsession, it is also his security. His behavior seriously reminds me of a drug addict. I can't get him interested in anything else no matter how hard I try.

Anyone else deal with this? I'm really at my wits end...the whole family is.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Sat, 07-26-2008 - 1:32am

I agree with Sara on this one.

We use a timer too. Sam plays a pokemon game that you cannot stop and save in the middle of a battle. So when the timer goes off and he's in the middle of a battle, I do allow him to finish the battle. But man do I have to be right on top of him when the battle is over, or he will keep going. I have put the DS in timeout for the next day when this has become a struggle. And I have put all screen time in timeout when Sam is very disrespectful or unsafe.

We have not allowed any large screen game systems into the house. They amp Sam up way too much and are just not worth the fight. We once had a light saber plug and play device that upset Sam everytime he played it. The last time he played it (the very last!) he tossed the light saber part and broke our LCD tv......Wii?!?! I don't think it's such a good idea, Sam.

I have to ask......if it's that much trouble, why have the thing around? We know a family that put all the tvs away for several months because their kids (one on the spectrum) were obsessed with it. After the kids got used to not having it around, they were able to find other things to stay occupied. They talked about what they liked about tv and came up with new rules together. Now they get tv time from Fri after school until Sun.....but during school weeks they keep it off. It works for them and the kids seem fine with it and are not as obsessed with it.

Sam lost his screen time today actually. He was upset and did ask me clarify why a couple of times and how he could earn it back. He gave up bugging me about it and he and his brother played well together all day (that never happens.)

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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-03-2004
Fri, 07-25-2008 - 7:29pm

We use the computer games in a token system. Our ds gets 2 hours a day which includes any "screens", TV, video games handheld or big screen, or computer games. Educational is extra... He can lose that time pretty quick if he misbehaves or breaks any rules. Any begging for more screens or making my life miserable about screens is a sure fire way to lose them completely for the next day.

We do have ways he can earn screens back sometimes, but that really depends. And the big threat is that ALL screens will go to storage unit in the basement, basically in lock down, not to be returned until some unknown future time. And that happened once.

Actually, it was my dh who just lost it over some fairly major infraction or rudeness, and he just packed up the TV, the computer and all handheld games, and off they went. MAN, was someone desolate. He cried and cried. But later, we all had big talks. And reset the rules about time limits and how we obey parents and be respectful or screens go.

Evelyn, I still fight with Malcolm about turning off in middle of game, BUT he has to. He loses screens right away if he gives me ANY guff now, sometimes he still tries it, I'm always amazed, but I just can't back down. Ever. Is it hard? Of course. My dh is pretty addicted to screens himself, but he is trying hard to set a more moderate example for ds these days, and I think that helps, too.

The thing about it is that the first times may be really hard and for awhile, but once they have learned it does get better. Except then you still have to be consistent to lay down the law, otherwise it isn't a law and they know it immediately.

I tell you, though, my mouth fell open the day Malcolm came walking down the hall before his screen time was up saying "I'm bored of screens"!


iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-2006
Fri, 07-25-2008 - 1:24am

We've got the same thing here. Actually, I'd say that both my kids, including my NT almost-7 year old, are computer game addicts. Sometimes it's scary. I hope to God no one ever offers either of them drugs, or introduces them to gambling. Timers don't work for us, because neither of them (but more so with the 10 year old Aspie) can tolerate quitting something in the middle. So, in order to maintain some level of peace, I generally let them continue until they are at a meaningful stopping point. But that backfires, because some games just go on forever, or take AGES to get to a stopping point. We've got this Lego Star Wars II, and now some kind of Lego Indiana Jones games, and apparently you can't save your game with them, so they can't just pause and come to dinner.

And of course, while they are playing computer games, I can have some peace. Well, until they start pushing each other off the chair. I swear, we have more computers in our house than I have pairs of shoes, but they each have to have "the blue laptop" because the other computers are all too old and slow. So, here I am, with kids who not only spend all day on the computer, but who stomp their feet and whine when they don't get the "good" computer. Some days I just say, "No! No one is turning on anything today." But of course, that's risky, because it can easily mean that I have to put up with kids (or just one of them) who really want to be playing computer games. David can wear me down; his Chinese zodiac sign is the Ox. My only hope is for him to get interested in something else, but even if he does, as he's drifting off to sleep at night, he'll suddenly remember that he wanted to do computer games, and feel the anguish of not having done so...and that can get ugly.

Just know you aren't alone.

By the way, I like your screen name. Is it because you like chocolate, or because of your equestrian style? ;)


iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2008
Tue, 07-22-2008 - 10:58am
I like the idea of the timer that you can attach to the game or computer! We have a nine year old who loves the video games as well and we just make an effort to limit the screen time. It's hard, but doable for now. We also give him options for earning more screen time like 15 minutes for a half hour of trumpet practice, etc. Seems to be working so far. But, I admit, there are days when I'm not as vigilant as I should be!
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-2006
Tue, 07-15-2008 - 12:49am

Susan's schedule sounds great!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-06-2003
Mon, 07-14-2008 - 11:57am

We have this in our home as well.