Nowadays, it seems like the number of family members within each household is increasing every few months. The family members I am referring to are not newborn babies, they are the electronic devices that have established such an important position in our daily lives. Unfortunately, instead of fulfilling the roles of useful gadgets, electronic devices sometimes take on a more sinister role and threaten the relationship between family members.
For the last five years as an RDI® consultant, I have encountered a number of cases of excessive electronic gaming among children. I have also witnessed some drastic measures used by parents to combat this particular type of challenge. One particular case involved a family with a 15-year-old son who had not been in school for over three months due to his excessive online gaming. Before my involvement, the family hired a psychologist and a behavioral consultant who suggested the family go “cold turkey” and simply unplug the computer. As a result, the teenager reacted aggressively towards his parents and they had to call the police for assistance. When I got involved in this case, I found that the family definitely did not practice guided participation, which made it very difficult for the child to learn from his parents.
Reducing a child’s gaming time requires more than discipline and control. Self-regulation is a very important skill every child should learn to adequately set limits for themselves. A person who is poor at self-regulation will choose not to be self-aware, self-monitor and self-correct (Clark & Scott, 2009). Parental guidance is essential to a child’s learning in all components of self-regulation skills. According to the concepts of RDI®, apprentices need to perceive themselves as juniors rather than as “seniors” in the learning moment. In addition, they need to feel they are important members of the family partnership.
By using the above concepts, I was able to successfully assist the family mentioned above to reduce the amount of time their teenager spent on his computer.
Tahnee Lam, M.A. is a consultant for Relationship Development Intervention (RDI®) in Vancouver, Canada. In 2009, she found New Step Consultation Services Inc. and has been working with over 100 children with special needs for the last 10 years of her career.