Unlock the Secret to Bedtime.

by Risa Green


As I’ve said before, my son is slightly obsessed with Wii Lego Star Wars. Despite the fact that I have banished it to the weekends, it is still all he thinks about, and all he ever wants to talk about. And I’ve gotten used to it, and I’ve even been more or less okay with it, until I discovered lately that things had gone just a little too far. You see, they tell you that kids who watch too much tv are more likely to get AD/HD, and that kids who spend too much time in front of a screen are more likely to become obese, but nobody tells you that kids who play too many video games are incapable of following rules unless those roles are spoken in video game parlance. Or at least, this is true of my kid. I really can’t say if there have been any longitudinal studies done to show that this holds true for other kids, as well.


Anyway, here’s an example. My son and I have been having some “bedtime issues” lately. Every night, he takes a bath, brushes his teeth, goes to the bathroom, etc. We read a few books. We lie in his bed and cuddle for several minutes and talk about things (what should we talk about, mommy? I don’t know, what do you want to talk about? I want to talk about video games). Then, he hugs me fifty or sixty times and kisses every square inch of my face and neck, and I say goodnight and walk out of his room. At which point he yells, Wait! Mama, I need to tell you one more thing! Which then turns into ten more things, along with several questions along the lines of, if I break both of my legs and I lose my voice in the middle of the night, how will I get you? And then he gives me ten more hugs and we argue about who loves who more, and then I say goodnight and leave again, muttering about how I still need to put away the dishes and make lunches for tomorrow, at which point he yells, Wait! Mama, just one more thing! And then I exhale out all of my patience and steam starts coming out of my ears and I begin to yell at him that it is too late for one more thing, and he needs to go to bed Right! Now! And then he starts to cry and then my husband comes in, guns blazing, making ultimatums (if you don’t stop calling for mommy right now, I am taking away Lego Star Wars for two weekends!) and then my son cries harder and calls for me anyway, and the next thing I know it’s almost ten o’clock, and I’m back in his room, calming him down (not having done any dishes or made any lunches) because my husband has taken away every toy the kid owns and video games and tv for a whole week. So like I said, we’ve got some bedtime issues.


Anyway, I have tried talking to my son in non-bedtime situations about the bedtime situation. I have tried explaining to him that when mommy says goodnight and leaves, he is not allowed to yell One more thing! And if he does need to tell me one more thing, he will have to wait until the morning. And since he is worried that he will forget what he has to tell me if he waits until the morning, I have put a pad of paper and a pencil next to his bed so he can write it down, and I have assured him that even if he does not spell it correctly, I will still be able to decipher what it says. And yet, the bedtime issues continue.



This is one of those columns that makes me feel better about my own five-year-old son's "computer" (game) fixation. When he saw the Star Wars Xbox game for the first time at Legoland it was hard to get him to move on despite the allure of roller coasters and life-size Bionicles right outside the door. In terms of bedtime, whatever works--especially when you have two to get down!


My son is 5 and heading to kindergarten.... please replace Super Mario Galaxy in place of Star Wars and this could have been written about him. Really large crocodile tears accompany any failure to master a level in the game RIGHT THIS MOMENT... and to threaten Wii restrictions is like telling him you are going to amputate his right leg... which would be ok with him, actually, because he'd still be able to play the Wii with his two good hands. When he is not playing wii (and believe me, we've also had to place boundaries and limits on times this can happen), we spend our days fighting imaginary bosses, trying to master imaginary challenges, and just being O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D about video games in general. thank you for letting me know I am not alone in this struggle to understand the mind of a male - almost kindergartener - video gamer.!!


Not only is your son obviously very, very smart and creative, but rest assured he/this is completely "normal." EVERYONE performs better when operating in a gaming framework. From frequent flier miles/loyalty program levels to the tech-based breakout Foursquare to clipping + redeeming good old Sunday paper coupons, the rush and joy in "unlocking" prizes is a normal human phenomenon that is recently gaining a lot of attention + press in the tech world. Here's the link to a super interesting presentation on this discipline. I am in no way affiliated or responsible for this brilliant presentation but it is fascinating. http://www.slideshare.net/stephenpa/the-art-science-of-seductive-interac...