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Whether it's the 7-year-old who likes to buy new moves in Bubble Witch Saga or the 10-year-old who won't stop playing Minecraft with his friends, more and more children are gaming on iPads and smartphones.
But how much mobile gaming is too much? And once parents recognize a problem, how do they wean their little ones off the crack that is Candy Crush Saga?
If kids are whining about having to go outside instead of playing video games, or if they're slacking off in school or can't sit still in a restaurant without an iPad in front of them, there might be a problem, said Patrick Markey, a psychology professor at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.
And there are several tricks to break kids of their electronic habits. From gradual transitions to replacement activities, here are seven ways parents can wean their kids off mobile devices.
Limit alone timeSlide 2 of 15
Limit alone time
With desktop computers, one of the best ways to stop compulsive gamers from overdoing it is to keep the family computer in a public place, said Ofir Turel, a researcher at the California State University, Fullerton.
"If the parents know how much time the kids play and they see what they're doing on the computer, the kids are reluctant to behave freely on the Internet," Turel said.
Unfortunately, portable devices such as smartphones or tablets are trickier to control. But if kids are playing on a parents' device, preventing kids from taking devices back to their own room can be a good way to limit game play. And consider whether the child actually needs his or her own device, most younger children don't.Slide 3 of 15
Passwords protectionSlide 4 of 15
Kids can unwittingly rack up huge bills for hay, jewels or doughnuts in "freemium" games if they're allowed to, and though many app makers will work with parents to refund that money, companies usually make those calls on a case-by-case basis, Markey said.
"This is why passwords are wonderful," Markey said.
Passwords should be in place whenever a credit card purchase is a possibility, Markey said. It's also important not to share passwords with kids, and not to pick ones they can easily guess, Markey added. Ensuring they can only play on your device with your permission and cutting off access to those in-game extra goodies may also help limit their game play. [Password Management Software: Keep Passwords Safe]Slide 5 of 15
Use transitionsSlide 6 of 15
When children are playing a game, it's best to warn them in advance when it's time to put the game away. So, to avoid the teary meltdown, 10 minutes before dinnertime, let kids know their time is running short, said Catherine Steiner-Adair, a clinical psychologist at the author of " The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age," (Harper, 2013).Slide 7 of 15
You're the bossSlide 8 of 15