According to the 2010 Guinness Book of Records, World of Warcraft (WOW) is the number one “massively multiplayer online role-playing game” or MMORPG, with over 10 million subscribers world-wide. WOW is a fun open-ended online game that can, for some kids, become an unhealthy obsession. If you’ve determined that your child is overly engaged in WOW, consider these ways of responding:
- Try to understand what human need is being met for your child by taking part in WOW. Is it to be liked? Is it to lead? Is it to be competent? An effective understanding of the reasonable goal(s) your child is trying to reach through WOW can give you insights into what is being frustrated in his or her real world.
- Try to partner with your child in expanding upon the success she or he is having in the real world. This may be socially, academically, extracurricularly or within your home.
- If your child has not identified areas of top strengths, use tools like the VIA Signature Strengths Survey or StrengthsExplorer to generate theories about what he or she might be very good at.
- If he or she has not done well with popular activities (e.g., sports offered at school, the most readily available clubs, etc.), try activities off the beaten path, using your child’s interests or insights from the previous recommendation to guide you.
- Look for partners in generating plans for increasing your child’s success in life. This might include teachers (most of whom are most willing to help), coaches, family, parents of your child’s friends, etc.
- Try to limit your child’s sedentary electronic pleasures to two hours a day. This is the sound counsel of more than one authoritative body (e.g., the American Academy of Pediatrics). If your child is doing more than this he or she may be missing out on other important developmental tasks (e.g., getting enough physical activity, advancing in reading skills, etc.)
- Explain to your child why you are putting any limits in place. This is done not to solicit approval (e.g., “thank you mother for being so wise and self-less in the administration of your parenting mission”), but to be respectful and loving. Of course, this will not typically mitigate passionate objections to the court from your child.
- Put appropriate electronic controls in place. Blizzard (the company behind WOW), has parent controls available within the game. Please click here to get started. There are also a variety of controls available either within many computers and televisions, just call the relevant technical support person. Finally, there are companies that sell products that make it easier for you to put controls into place (e.g., www.familysafemedia.com).
- Try to make sure that you are your child have at least one hour a week together where all you do is pay attention to your child and value either what your child is doing and/or saying. Called “special time” this involves a more intense dosing of attention than “quality time” (i.e., something else typically captures a parent’s attention during quality time, such as shopping, fishing, etc.).
- There is an army of lean-mean-healing machines available and willing to help you in your efforts to help your child. If you find that this is complex or difficult for you to resolve on your own or that your child is having a toxic reaction to your efforts to establish loving controls, consider taking the step of identifying a child therapist to help. One place to get local referrals is here.
Research suggests that effective parental monitoring is one of the most powerful ways to promote resilience, happiness and wellness in your child. Hence, your well designed efforts along these lines are usually well worth it!
Here’s my 2 cents:
Get a trial account and play WoW with your child. Be genuine in your game play and try to do your best. You will learn many things about yourself and your child with this activity.
The dynamics of human interaction are changing. Many neighborhoods may not have kids in your child’s age group or that have similar interests. Understand that being online playing multiplayer games breaks down age barriers and allows interaction at many levels. Your child may even be playing with friends from school that live miles away. Just because someone is playing online doesn’t mean that there isn’t social interaction.
And lastly, if at all possible, don’t let your child even get started. Online multiplayer gaming is extreme distracting from school work and other activities. If it’s unavoidable, only allow your child to play on Saturdays after their homework is done. And if they complain about it, just remind them that some game play is better than none.