My Son Loves Gaming, But He Needs Balance: 8 Rules I’m Implementing in My Home

I don't want to take away something he's passionate about, but I also wouldn't be doing my job as a parent if I allowed him to play without a few restrictions

by Nancy Reynolds

This Post: My Son Loves Gaming, But He Needs Balance: 8 Rules I’m Implementing in My Home

Written By: Amannda Maphies

My 14-year-old son loves gaming…

He games on his computer.

He games on his laptop.

He games on his phone. 

He games with his friends.

He games when he’s alone.

Heck, he’d game in the shower if he could.

And, when he’s not gaming, he’s watching some YouTube video about gaming.

As a mom, I get it. It’s fun, it’s challenging, it’s exciting, there are quite literally thousands of games he can choose from to play, and it’s a great way to decompress and connect with other kids online who hold the same passion he does. 

But, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that, at times, it drives me nuts. 

I realize times have changed. And, I am trying to wrap my head around the concept that (most) teens today socialize via social media, gaming, and texting. I’m not on board with it, but it is what it is (a phrase I mutter to myself several times a day since becoming the parent of a teen)

My Son Loves Gaming, But He Needs Balance: 8 Simple Rules I’m Implementing in My Home


I don’t want to forbid him to play –  my son loves gaming. One: I can promise you this, he’d find a way to game with or without my consent. And, two: It’s his hobby. (I can only imagine how I’d feel if someone said I couldn’t read or write or crochet – all things I’m passionate about.) Plus, research has shown there are actually benefits to gaming (Gasp! I know, right?) provided limitations are set.

However, I wouldn’t be doing my job as a parent if I didn’t draw SOME line in the sand. He might fight me, but for his well-being, I’m implementing a few simple rules in my home.

1. Limits on When and For How Long He Can Game

Gaming isn’t just a favorite fun pastime for my son, it’s his way of unwinding and decompressing after a long day of school or a way for him to chill out on a Saturday afternoon. Therefore, I understand if he wants to come home and game for an hour or so after school before he starts his homework or spend some time gaming with his friends on a Saturday. But long, marathon stretches of gaming are a “no” in my house. 

I’m fairly flexible with my limitations (it won’t serve me well to rule with an iron fist), but I do put some limitations on his gaming time. On school days, it might be an hour or two at a time; during the summer it’s longer since he has more free time on his hands. 

2. Only Approved Games Can Be Played

You bet I’m going to check out the games he’s playing and make my own determination whether they’re acceptable for a 14-year-old.

Of course, I’ll loosen my grip as he matures – I certainly won’t be monitoring the games he plays when he’s 18 and in college. But, for now, my job is to protect my boy. 

3. Chores Before Gaming

The rule in my house is that my son has to complete his daily chores before he starts gaming. None of the chores he’s been given take a ton of time, so it’s typically never a problem for him to get them out of the way before he enjoys his favorite pastime. 

On those rare occasions, when he pushes his chores aside, I may have to put my foot down with consequences, but like anything else in parenting, if I stay consistent with my rules, my son is more likely to follow them. 

4. No Gaming at the Dinner Table or When We’re Out to Dinner

When we are all under the same roof for mealtimes (which is rare, considering the myriad of sports practices, basketball and baseball games, scout meetings, etc. we have going on), we eat at the dinner table. This is our time to connect which means no cellphones or gaming allowed. 

I figure my son can surely give me 30 minutes to an hour of his precious gaming time to have dinner as a family. He may not love it now, but someday, he just might appreciate the time we spent together talking face-to-face – even if it did, at times, feel forced.

5. No Gaming After 10:00 p.m.

While I tend to be more lax in the summer months, we have a cut-off time during the school year when phones, iPads, laptops, and all electronic devices are ‘put to bed’, even if it happens before my kids are put to bed. I go to bed fairly early (oftentimes before my son). So, while this can sometimes be difficult to enforce, I will occasionally do a ‘room check’ to be sure devices are not in use.

Even if he just chills out listening to music, my son needs time to rest his brain (not to mention his growing body). And, although I can’t force him to sleep, I can take away the culprits that prohibit his rest. 

6. No Online Chatting With People He Doesn’t Know

This rule is more about having regular conversations with my son and helping him become aware and less about monitoring his every online move. My son is only 14. He doesn’t understand about the perils that lurk on the Internet. We talk about predators and scammers and people who have ulterior motives when getting chummy with a young boy online. 

I’ve developed a strong enough relationship with my son that he comes to me when he feels something is “off” online and we work together to resolve the situation. 

7. Yes to Family Bonding Time 

We are very blessed to live minutes away from my parents. My son can walk to their house in five minutes. My dad is an avid gardener and as he’s grown older, my son has jumped in to help with his garden.

The beauty of it is that it truly helps my dad and saves him hours of hard manual labor and it allows my son to spend quality, one-on-one time with his grandfather.

You simply can’t put a price tag on the importance of your teen bonding with their immediate and/or extended family. Whether it’s time spent with aunts and uncles, cousins, or grandparents – it’s a precious piece of their childhood puzzle that truly makes our kids feel whole, connected, and loved. 

8. Hobbies, Sports, Extracurriculars, or Outdoor Activities Are a Must

Finding balance in their lives is a must – something else that occupies space in their mind and time in their day. Whether it’s basketball, baseball, or gymnastics, the robotics or the chess club after school, or hiking on the weekends with friends. 

I know, firsthand, that when you have a slightly obsessed gamer on your hands, it can be hard to encourage them to fill part of their days with something other than their computer, laptop, or phone, but that balance is necessary. Face-to-face interaction with other kids, strengthening their social and communication skills, meeting other like-minded kids, and being part of something that builds connection and bonding is so important. Don’t let your teen fight you on this one. Hold your ground and make a stipulation – they’ll thank you later. 

As a mom, I don’t mind that my son games – I realize it’s one of his all-time favorite hobbies. But I don’t want it to be his main source of entertainment.

Life is moving fast and I don’t want him to look back with regret that he spent the vast majority of his childhood watching a screen instead of experiencing life. 


About Amannda Maphies:

Amannda works at the UMKC School of Pharmacy, is a boy mom to Liam (13) and Waylan (11), and enjoys freelance writing based on her travels, life adventures, and pretty much anything that stands out as ‘story-worthy’Manndi contributes to several online and written publications varying in content from single motherhood, raising teens, biblical perspectives, and inspirational/overcoming stories based on her unique life journey. She also enjoys a slice of journalism, writing for two local publications: Ozarks Farm and Neighbor and Connections Magazine. Manndi is proud to be published in Chicken Soup for the Soul Believing in Angels (January 2022), and her first book was published in September 2022, Tales From My Mummy. Her writing is lovingly filled with inspiration, encouragement, and always a touch of humor. “Live a life worthy of writing about,” is her life motto, which she strives to emulate daily.

If you enjoyed reading, “My Son Loves Gaming, But He Needs Balance: 8 Rules I’m Implementing in My Home,” here are a few other posts you might like!

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