I want to be a nice dad, and not have to yell at them to get off their computers. I asked them 2 times already, and they reply "Not right now, dad". They are on it for about 8 hours a day, and that really concerns me. . One Girl:12 and One Boy: 10. They are playing GTA V non stop since their mom got them that. (They're mature enough to play the game, and some parts are blocked through parental controls. The problem isn't the game but the amount of time they spend on the computer.)

How do I tell my kids to get of the computer right now, without being rude?

And at dinner, I can't have a conversation with them. Even when they are off of it, it's awkward for what to ask them. I live with them, yet, I don't even know them all that well. They're super distant around everyone else. Their mother has this problem too.

I am in the US (Illinois).

  • @Firework feel free to edit your question to add additional information, rather than posting it in comments. Also, if you want to move this to parenting, you should be able to do that now - the block is 40 minutes between posts network-wide... or, I can migrate it for you. You don't have to move it there, if you prefer it to stay here. It's your call.
    – Catija
    Nov 19, 2017 at 23:42
  • I feel like this is more of a interpersonal issue, as I don't want them to hate me. I am a very, interpersonal person.
    – Firework
    Nov 20, 2017 at 0:03
  • "Also, we shouldn't push questions away just because there's another site that also accepts similar questions; this can work perfectly fine as an IPS question, IMO:
    – Firework
    Nov 20, 2017 at 1:14
  • 3
    This would be entirely on topic on Parenting, and we have an entire tag on video games: parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/video-games - I think it fits there better than here, as Parenting is a little different to general interpersonal skills, as the parent child relationship is often a special case.
    – Rory Alsop
    Nov 20, 2017 at 7:54

6 Answers 6


Inform them when to stop playing beforehand.

As a gamer myself, I find that it's frustrating to be told to stop right now. Some games cannot be stopped immediately, especially online games. And some goes so far as cannot be paused immediately. I'm talking about Dota 2, LoL, Overwatch, Counter-Strike Online, and other MOBA-genre games.

  1. Establish a schedule when they need to stop playing. Tell them they can use the computer until 8 PM (or 10 PM), or 2 hours max a day.

  2. If they play online multiplayer games, ask them how long is the typical duration of a single game. For DotA 2, it takes approximately 60 minutes for a single game session (finding match - finish match).

  3. Before they need to stop, remind them that they need to stop in x minutes. If you know they are a fan of online multiplayer games, tell them 60 minutes before.

    It's already 9 PM. Remember you need to get off the computer in 10 PM sharp.

    I need your help to do X. Can you help me now? Or 15 minutes later?

    Reminder can be set using alarm, but the hard part is establishing the habit. I recommend the parents take a turn to remind the kids, then slowly transition to alarms, then just clock. It's important to give trust to your kids after they showed that they can be trusted to stop when it is needed.

  4. Educate your kid to differentiate between what can be postponed and what needs to be done NOW.

    • If a fire breaks out in your home, stop playing right now at all cost and extinguish it.
    • If someone is injured, stop playing right now.
    • If they have responsibility in the morning (school, work), ask them to moderate their sleeping hour.
  5. Be lenient. I've played a session where the game dragged out to well past 60 minutes. Let them finish that game before asking them to stop. They will be grateful to you.

This is based from my experience battling with frustration with my parents for 5 years.

My sister has used this to moderate the time her babies playing tablet. They (with her husband) let them to play until the battery runs out. If they need to get them off the tablet, they tell them they have 5 minutes left, pointing at the clock. After 5 minutes, they ask them to stop. Earlier, they sighed and threw a tantrum, but after being reminded that they've been told before, they can accept it. Now, after being reminded the second time, they immediately shut it off.

  • 2
    While you're advocating plenty of understanding as far as gamers are concerned, I feel that there's a greater issue at hand here: kids as young as that should snap to when their parents ask them to do something, not argue that the game can't be paused. A parent more worried about being rude than enacting discipline is a poor parent, in my opinion, and you don't address that at all. Sure, you outline some solid strategies for building up some discipline, but you offer no advice on being an actual parent and pulling the plug if the kids don't obey. And at 10-12 obedience should be expected.
    – AndreiROM
    Nov 20, 2017 at 19:57
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    @AndreiROM absolutely disagree. At around 10 to 12 your children should start challenging you as a parent. They need to, consciously, question what is going on and why. The 'because I say so' card should not be played at that age. You want your kid to become a critical thinker, not a 'yes, sir'-person. Dec 4, 2017 at 13:03
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    @AndreiROM Disagree heavily. If you raise your kids to be obedient rather then inqusitive and challenging, you'll get kids without critical thinking skills and no idea how to operate in the real world. 10-12 years old is well past where that needs to start.
    – Magisch
    Jan 2, 2018 at 8:41
  • 1
    @AndreiROM Being told to save and quit right now feels like an order. Being told "this is your last round" feels like an order. But being told to abandon either your teammates or the progress you've made feels like a punishment. If you want to be more strict than this answer suggests but not so strict as to seem "unfair", you could demand that kids a) save the game and quit it instantly - if it can be saved, b) finish the match/get to the next checkpoint/otherwise preserve the progress and then quit - if the game can't be saved.
    – user31389
    Jul 18, 2018 at 10:48

I used to be the least cool person in town. Then I moved. Now I'm the least cool person in the new town.

You're the father. It's our job as parents to set standards and consequences. That doesn't mean declaring fascism, but it does mean that we are the person in charge. I set the expectation with my kids that I would tell them something once; if I had to tell them again that was one time too often. That doesn't mean that I was excessively harsh with them or applied strong discipline - I sometimes just needed to say "I've already asked you to do this one time. Please don't make me ask again." Now that yours are older, this will be harder to do but it is still possible, I believe.

There are a couple things that can be done here. One is to set time limits per day. "You are allowed to play until 7 at night. After then, I come and turn off computers." You do that a couple times, and then they realize you are serious. Another is to set expectations that computer time is only for when chores are accomplished. Also, modern kids are really into technology. If you want them off their computers, I'd recommend finding something for them to do. Play family games. Take up archery. Kick a soccer ball around. Visit local museums, parks, and such. Take them with running errands. Do chores with them.

Otherwise you'll have a lot of complaining and sneaking to contend with. Also, talk to them. Explain what's going on. Don't just set rules - explain to them what the rules are and why they exist. Allow for some negotiation, as long as it doesn't devolve into their trying to be young lawyers.

You can be nice but still apply discipline. If kids know what's going to happen and then see it happen consistently, they actually appreciate that. They may not like it, but they do seem to fare better when they know the rules and what is expected of them. When rules are applied inconsistently or at random, that's when your relationship will suffer.

Finally, we as parents are NOT our kids' friend. We love them and they love us. Their friends are at school. Our job is to teach them to be adults without us and guide them through this journey of growth that we have already done. Sorry if that seems harsh, but too many parents these days seem to focused on being friends with their kids and do not teach them how to be respectful competent adults who can understand limits and responsibility.

Dinner times are sometimes going to be awkward as they approach puberty. That's normal. They don't hate you; they are just figuring out how to interact with you. They are starting to see themselves as equals and want to push that limit as well as start separating themselves from you. The next 5 years will have a lot of arguments, heartache, joy, pride, and stuff you can never plan for. But on the other side, it gets really rewarding once again. It requires patience on your side. You can and will get through it.

  • I used to be the least cool person in town. Then I moved. Now I'm the least cool person in the new town. - What does this have to do with anything?
    – Mithical
    Jan 1, 2018 at 16:19
  • 1
    @ArwenUndómiel It means the father needs to first look at himself and how he can change his own behavior. Or to use a famous quote, "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"
    – user985366
    Jan 11, 2018 at 23:34

I tell my daughter:

You can play on this until X O'clock. I'll remind you about 5 minutes before your time is up so you can save your game and close it on time. If you don't close it on time I will have to close it for you and you might lose your game progress, so it would be much better if you come off when I tell you.

And then follow that to the letter. Remind them, and if they are still playing it when you walk in 5 minutes later you close the program / turn the console off / yank the plug out, whatever it takes.

Kids sense of what is 'fair' is undeveloped, they lack the perspective of others so even the best of kids can be selfish. They might complain the first time you turn off their game but if you have articulated your expectations (fancy speak for 'telling them what you expect of them beforehand') then they will learn that it is better for them to comply and actually you aren't being unfair when you are only doing what you said you would do.


As per all my answers here, this is based on what I do or would do. That may or may not be useful to actual humans with social skills :-)

Lay down the ground rules up front. I've had exactly this problem recently with my two kids but we have a policy of actually discussing stuff at evening meal and sorting out any issues. So my wife and I explained that it was not healthy to spend too much time on devices without other activity.

If children understand the rules (and reasons) up front, they'll be more amenable to following them.

In our particular case, we used the classic carrot-and-stick approach. We made them totally responsible for monitoring their time without argument from us, but we also offered suggestions such as running timers so they'd know as their time was drawing near. This is the carrot, us not nagging them mid-game to get off.

However, the stick is just as important. They are well aware of the 10-for-1 rule if they don't follow the rules. We give them four hours a day during holidays and two hours a day during school periods (while school is on, including the weekends). They are aware that we independently track the time spent and, if they go over, it costs them ten minutes of their next day for every minute of excess. So going over by 15 minutes today will reduce tomorrow by two and a half hours. If they're zero or negative at the start of the day, they get nothing, of course.

That's fine for the devices I can easily monitor (PC and Macs), things like the XBox and iPad, they have to set a start time in advance and notify us when finished.

That seems to be working out well so far, though I suspect my daughter will soon be smart enough to at least threaten my data collection activities :-)


Very good answers already, but just in the case, when there are no agreed schedules, but just times when its ok, and times when it need to stop, I tend to ask what they are currently on, and how long it will take them to finish the current task. Usually the estimates are within a reasonable timespan, like 3-10 minutes. And they are happy you take them and their mission seriously. The length of their current mission is for most kids that age much easier too measure, then some abstract 5 or 10 minutes. I am quite bad at keeping track of the time when I am playing myself.

When I played in that age, i totally dived into the game at times, and became that character. At least they are allowed to say good bye the way they want. (this is not just for videogames)

If there is an online community in the background somewhere, it will take more time.

The good thing for me about this is: you show interest in what they are doing, and what they are spending their precious time with. And that will make it easier for them to have a conversation later on. For what its worth, you could ask them what the most fascinating thing about game XY is, and probably have some real enthusiasm and talk... no guarantees.

and i strongly would advise you trying to switch games to some age appropiate games, but that would be off topic, sorry, please edit this out, if unrelated.


Well, this is a good one! I have to say that I used to play a lot! I was bullied in high school so all I did was playing games. World of WarCraft, especially, because I really liked the story behind it and it made me feel good when my parents bought me a WarCraft book and I could read it, because you actually felt connected to those characters, you know that.

One day my parents told me that I am addicted. We argued a bit and I was afraid, because I felt terrible after the fight, so I agreed with their opinion. Now, about 4 years later, I am looking back and telling myself that I am grateful for my parents stepping in, even though I hated them for that.

It is a really huge problem when your kids play games. Why? Because sometimes it is okay for them to control that, but sometimes it is not. It is parents' job to analyze it and decide how to proceed. You can be wrong, you can be right, but you can't stand there and just ... let things happen.

  1. I would start with consulting this issue with them. Ask them why are they playing so much. Maybe they know it, which would be the better case and you would be able to have a conversation about it. If they don't, however, I would tell them they can't play so much, because it is not healthy.
  2. If it would not work out, I would just do it, cause it is the case when I had told them. They have to see who is the father and who is the one making calls. But be careful, they must see the reason behind your action. I would tell them again why you turned off the power for the weekend. "Guys, we are going for a trip this weekend!" etc. In case of gaming, try to be proactive instead of reactive. Changing a child's schedule who is playing 8 hours a day is really painful, sometimes.
  3. Sometimes people are blind and they don't understand the reason behind the action of someone else. Being you I would have a conversation with the wife, because she bought them the game. I am not saying I am blaming her, I am saying that because of her action buying the game you need her help to do something about your children' time spent playing games. If a mother allows something and father does not, there will be a big problem. You might talk to your children with your wife, which would be much better than talking to them alone.

If they say "Not right now, dad!" it is not right. You are their father. For them, you are the best father ever. They might not say it, they might say it, it does not matter. You just are. And you have to realize that you have a responsibility for their upbringing. You know what is best for your kids. Are you sure they should not play that much? Stop it.

Sure, games are really great, but you should be aware that they shouldn't use it as an exit from reality. Do you want to turn off for a while? Why not, if you like games, but don't screw your school up.

I am not saying computer games are bad, I am also not saying computer games are good... it is just too complex... I would, however, make a weekly plan and see how they are doing in school and other stuff outside the school. I think we should never let our kids spend all the time at computers, especially when you can't talk to them at dinner, which is really, really bad. If it happens, you have to make them stop playing for a while. Gaming world is not for children, because this way you are loosing the ability to shape their growing up. This is my opinion.


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