Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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I serve many kids that insist on playing hours and hours of video games, claiming it is “fun” and “they are not bad video games.” They often play soccer video games, etc. What is the best way to convince them to avoid many hours of playing from a biblical perspective? (Saying it wastes time does not get across to them)

Children and youth need some time for recreation and most things in moderation can be acceptable. Starting at an early age, they also need to learn discipline so they may become self-disciplined and know how to set boundaries as they mature. If these two life lessons are not taught and modeled at home, these youth will pay the consequences in the future, whether in their careers or in relationships. Servants will undoubtedly have a greater challenge in convincing them otherwise since only the few hours they spend each week at church is minimal in comparison to the vast exposure to unproductive media. If they are old enough to understand, teach them about the clever skills the devil uses to waste time so that without much effort on his part, they will tire out before they give God any time at all. In addition, parents need to be educated on this matter so that they enforce reasonable rules at home.

There is also another dangerous subliminal problem with the overuse of these games. What begins as minor interest develops into hours of wasted time and less productivity in studies and prayers. Often, while they are playing, pop-ups appear to introduce them to new games and encourage them to try them for free. In reality, what is actually happening is a marketing strategy, but can also be the planting of a seed of early stages of developing addictive behavior, as well as inhibiting the development of appropriate social skills.

Try this exercise in your Sunday school class. Tell the students to write out everything they do from the time they wake up until the time they sleep, hour by hour. Have each one do a different day from Monday to Sunday. Then, together as a class, figure out how much time is spent on each part of the day, e.g., school, sleeping, eating, playing, TV, games, family, church, and personal time with God in prayer and reading the Holy Scripture. By engaging them in this conversation as they use multiple senses, not only hearing you say that it is not good for them, but by seeing on their papers how much time is actually wasted, and by physically writing out the details of each day, their senses will send a stronger message to their minds about how they use or waste time. Then, ask them, if there was a serious situation in their families, would that change how their days are spent and how? From there, plant the seed of using time wisely by helping them to set some quiet time for God in prayer, reading the Holy Scripture, helping in daily chores, talking with family members, studying to improve grades, volunteering, joining team sports, taking music lessons, and developing productive hobbies like art or writing, etc.

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17).
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