As my oldest has hit the teen years (13!!!!) we've needed to better manage his electronics time. After all we cannot have him becoming a real gamer like his old man... at least not until it's on his own dime and time. So I've been on the look for technical options that offer management over the home network and scheduling aspects whereby we can let him have his space but have a say in when he can "game on".
What I ended up with and what we are trialing right now is the Time Boss Pro software. This software
|Example schedule from Time Boss website.|
allows you to set a schedule per user on up to three PCs on the home network. It also has features to monitor further with event logs and such, but that's over the top for our use case as we engage with our son on what he is doing, who he is talking to and so I turn it off.
I really keyed in on the scheduling aspect of the software.
In the software I can set time per day and total time per week. I can do that whether on his gaming laptop ("his" aka the one he took over from dad now that I don't travel much) or from my main home computer. There is a clear visual display on his end of time remaining and a built in warning system. There is also the ability to get and give bonus time.
Some parents may say this is overboard and "helicopter parent-ish", but I'd disagree. One of our key jobs as parents is to prepare our children for the real world. Regulating and managing your time and using tools to do so is a key to success as an adult. Kids also need to learn and a tool like this helps them learn what, for example, "an hour" of actual gaming is.
Thinking everything can be solved through "just talking to your kid" is fine, but you cannot always be there to talk to your kid. And as they get older the ability for them to have their own space is critical (and heck as parents we need our time apart). Tools like this help build that trust from a distance. Note: it still critical to talk with your kid about what they did, who they are talking to, and all that good parenting jazz. Otherwise how else are you going to stay hip to the Minecraft lingo?
Long term the goal is to get our oldest to a point of self management with no tools, but until then I will keep working on technical solutions on top of talking/teaching about healthy habits. That may even require me to be a little more conscious about my own gaming/electronic habits so I can lead by example. Quick don't let my wife see this post.