Help Your Children Turn Their Computer Obsession into A Productive Passion
Hobbies and passions are what help individuals develop strengths and shape their personality. While discovering things that we are passionate about can happen at any stage in life, it often starts at a young age. Helping your children discover and nurture their talents or passions is one of the most important duties of parenting and it often happens in a quite unconventional way.
What parents often do wrong is signing their kids up for various activities they think might interest them, such as arts and sports, without thinking about what their kid likes in the first place. Quite often, what parents think their kids’ interests are going to be, does not always turn out to be correct. This is where frustration and conflicts between parents and children begin. Although you want your little one to be passionate about tennis or playing the piano, you may find out they have quite a different interest, such as computers or video games. Finding out their child likes to spend hours a day in front of the computer might scare some parents and lead to them thinking this will become an unhealthy obsession that will affect other aspects of their life, such as learning or developing a social life. But what if you could help turn what you see as an unhealthy habit into a productive passion?
Keep an open mind
Instead of looking at video games as the enemy that takes over all their free time, you can choose to be a positive parent and look at it as one of the many options in the pool of hobbies. The first step towards supporting and nurturing their passion is accepting that, even though you may not think that way, your child perceives video games as something fun that they enjoy doing. This does not come from your failure to expose them to outdoor activities, it is just one of the many things that your child could have chosen to like.
Instead of picking up arguments every time they spend more than 30 minutes in front of the computer, try thinking of a smarter approach. Do not smother their passion simply because it is not the way you imagined they will be spending their free time. Think about a way to support them, but at the same time avoid turning this into an unhealthy habit. If they were to like playing soccer, you would take them to practice a few times a week, right? Try the same approach when it comes to video games. Let them have their practice a few times a week. Maybe you don’t want them playing on school days, as that can interfere with their school routine. That is understandable, but during the weekend, you can let them enjoy 1,5-2 hours on front of the computer a day.
Discuss and negotiate with them
In order to understand their passion and what it is about video games that attracts them, sit them down and have a talk with them. Video games can teach children problem-solving skills that can be very beneficial to them later in life. Games that have to be played in a team can help your children understand that their actions are affecting everyone around them and teach them how to collaborate and listen to other people’s opinions. This can also help them see that every action has consequences, a valuable lesson for the future.
When having this conversation with them, don’t hold on to the idea that all video games teach is violence and isolation from the outside world. Their answer might surprise you and even teach you a thing or two. Listen to what they have to say and show them that you support their passion, as long as it is healthy and does not turn into an obsession. This is where you, as a parent, need to show guidance and teach them about keeping a balanced life. Instead of having constant fights and arguments about computer time, try to come up with a schedule. For instance, they can have 2 hours of video games during weekends, but focus on school and other activities during week days. They can also earn an extra 30 minutes a week if they complete their tasks, such as homework or chores. This will show them that you understand and support their passion, while you can also make sure they don’t exaggerate.
Sign them up for computer camp or internships
Part of being a parent is guiding you children towards discovering their purpose and for some children, that is computers and video games. One way you can foster their enthusiasm and even lay the foundation for further growth is looking up internship programs or camps. Game companies or software development companies offer various programs for children and teenagers that can help them get an inside look at the technology industry. This could be the jumpstart they need towards a profession that can both develop their creativity and provide financial stability, given the fact that, a software engineer in the US can earn up to $100.000 a year.
One of the reasons why many tech companies offer programs for children is precisely because they have understood that passion often comes at a young age and it is very important to have a place to explore it. There are various programs for children of all ages that can teach them anything from coding to designing video games or developing mobile apps. Talk to your child and show them these opportunities. Chances are, you will spark their interest and they will be more than happy to give it a try.
By giving them the tools and opportunity to learn something new, you will not only take a fresh approach towards their obsession with computers, but also strengthen your relationship with them. They will see that you take their interests seriously and support them, making them be more open towards you in the future as well. This will help build up trust and respect in your relationship and make them feel valued. And, if things work out well, you could also be setting the ground towards a lucrative career.