Last year I got my 13 year old son a tablet for his birthday and he’s since become addicted to it. He’s obsessed with Minecraft and he no longer reads in his spare time. What should I do?

You are right to have some concerns about your son’s extensive video game play. While it would have been easier to set up parameters at the start, you are not the first parent to find yourself in this pickle! As you have seen, video games do seem to have an addictive quality, and no one seems to realize their hold until it’s too late. Unfortunately, it may be very difficult for your son to recognize this as problem without some help. For more guidance in limiting computer use, we recommend the Empowering Parents website (http://www.empoweringparents.com/).

Videogames also have their benefits. Playing a video game requires a broader range of attention than reading a book, watching a movie, or struggling to complete homework. They can teach perseverance, problem- solving, and working through multiple failures (grit). Further, your son’s refusal to read books in his spare time does not mean that is he, in fact, not reading. He may be absorbed in one of the many websites that allow people to master the game; while this may not be the type of literature that you had in mind, reading is reading.

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