Video games are quite addictive. In fact, they can completely take over a child’s daily schedule, so much so that their academics and social skills can suffer.

The appeal of video games is no mystery. They’re multimedia and interactive, making them exciting to play. High scorers are recognized, higher game levels are more interesting and at times you can even battle real opponents. Indeed, there are a lot to video games that make them difficult to put down.

What you need to do is set down some rules for your child to follow when playing video games. If you do so, video gaming becomes less of a headache, and more of an opportunity to teach them valuable lessons in time management.

Here are five video gaming rules that you can consider:

Play only after priority tasks are done. Making video games contingent on finishing responsibilities can teach your kids discipline. Rules like ‘no games before homework’ or ‘no games unless chores are done’ can underscore the importance of studies and household duties. In fact, extending video gaming hours as a reward for jobs well done can encourage your kids to pay studies and chores a little extra attention.

Play only for a specific number of hours. Another good rule to set is the duration of playing games. An hour a day during weekdays may be alright, and you can extend a bit more during weekends. How long kids should play video games depends on you; the amount of time is less important than the balance. The purpose of limits is to make sure that video gaming does not come at the expense of developing other skills. You want your kids to also be interested in activities like sports, arts and literature.

One’s health should always come first. There are physical symptoms associated with prolonged computer use, which includes hyperactivity, deteriorating eyesight and carpal tunnel syndrome. Be clear with your kids that if any of these symptoms do occur, then it’s time to take a break from the games!

Play only parent-approved games. There are many violent and sexually explicit games out in the market right now, and they can make a strong statement to an impressionable child. Choose wisely what you’d allow your kids to play! And while you can be guided by the standard rating in the package, it’s always best to play the game for yourself and see if there are objectionable parts in the material.

Parental review of video games is important too for security reasons. Parents need to watch out for possible privacy hazards. Some games, especially internet-based ones, require users to release personal and credit information, and might make your kid vulnerable to online predators. Know how things work, so that you can protect your child accordingly.

Lastly, discuss the game. Here’s an odd rule: talk about the video game! Many parents fail to see that video games can be an opportunity to have meaningful conversations with their child. By talking with your kid about what they enjoy most about a game, you become instantly a part of their world. As important, discussing a game with a child counters the ‘anti-socialization’ aspect of technology and opens the avenue for gaming to be a personal and social event. Remember, video games aren’t all that bad! They can nourish creativity, dexterity as well as healthy competitiveness in your child. And banning video games can backfire on you. It’ll make you appear evil, especially if all your child’s peers are allowed by their own parents to play. Rules can spell the difference between productive and unproductive video gaming, so don’t be remiss in enforcing those limits!