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Alternatives to the Xbox

alternatives to the xbox
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Hobbies for teenage boys

When it comes to time spent gaming on the Xbox, for many teenagers the word “addiction” is not too strong. Hours spent in front of the screen, playing games late into the night, take their toll on developing brains and bodies. I have a teenager who loves his Xbox, so finding  alternatives to the xbox and get them off the screens and back IRL (in real life for gaming newbies) is a subject close to my heart.

Gaming can make them stressed

A number of studies into this testing subject have been published, many confirming what parents already suspect – that gaming is bad for you. My son often emerges from his room irritable and short-tempered, his eyes red, casting around for biscuits because his blood sugar has dipped so low. This formerly solitary pursuit has now become social – all of your teenager’s friends will also be plugged in, all of them talking to each other as they game, meaning that they stay on longer and later, because “everyone else is”.

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It’s sometimes overwhelmingly tempting to ban them, to take the thing away, throw it out of the window, get your child back. But according to Sally Ryan, teacher and mum to Jake, 14, Caitlin, 12 and Cooper, 6, this sort of impulsive and direct action often doesn’t work. Taking the source of their addiction away will only lead to arguments and tension and will probably end in you caving in to save your sanity.

“Banning kids from the consoles will only have the opposite effect of what you are trying to achieve,” she advises. “Moderation is the key. There has to be some sort of trade-off.”

Sally often finds herself offering advice to parents at the end of their tether, desperate to reduce the time their children spend plugged in to their consoles. She advises them to create contracts with their teenagers to negotiate the amount of time that they spend gaming.

“It will only work with older children though – any younger and they don’t understand the value of the trade off or have the self-discipline to carry it through.”

Tips for bringing the family together

There are ways to prise your children away from their screens and bring your family unit back together.  You need something which is fun and is going to engage and challenge your teen; that they’ll actively want to do when normally they’d be reaching for the controller.

Helping your teenager to identify and start up a hobby is a great place to start in the battle of parent v console.

  • Take up a sport: Getting into sport is the ideal foil to the lure of the console. Fresh air, exercise, and a rush of endorphins to surpass any kill on Halo. Search the internet for local clubs or ask around friends and colleagues with kids.
  • Take up learning a musical instrument – If it wasn’t for his love of playing his electric guitar I would be worried about my son’s gaming habit. Learning to play a musical instrument encourages your child to use their creative skills, learn a fabulous new skill and can lead to many opportunities to get out and about, by joining a local youth music group or forming their own band. I’ve got high hopes that my son could be one quarter of the next Arctic Monkeys.
  •  Join a youth group – Youth groups aren’t just for hanging around with other teenagers playing pool, though that’s always a big draw and gets them out of the house and socialising. There are many different types of youth groups that can also help your child to discover hidden talents, such as skills in drama or music. Search the internet, ask around or look on local noticeboards for details of groups in your area.
  •  Get shooting: Not the type of shooting found on GTA V, the sort that uses a camera. It’s a fantastic hobby to bring out your teenager’s creative side. Find a local photography group where your child can learn more about photographic techniques. They’ll get such a buzz from creating something beautiful.
  • Nurture an interest: Every child has their “thing”. It might be movies, music, a certain period of history…encourage them to delve deeper into whatever interests them. Try to steer them away from doing all their research on the internet though – reintroduce them to traditional ways of finding information; the library, magazines, books. We didn’t have Wikipedia when we were kids and we turned out ok!
  • Get out and about – Rediscover the days when you spent time together as a family. If your teenager is anything like mine, he’ll find it excruciatingly embarrassing being seen anywhere near you, so bribe them into going on a family ramble or day out by going further afield. You’ll all benefit from a change of scene with a new environment and experiences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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