Tip #1 to Limit Tics: Reduce Electronics

In this article, I wrote a list of 20 things I’m doing to manage tics. I broke the list down into simple changes/habits vs. more technical. Because it’s Christmas and I have so much to do that pretty sure I’ll be ticking myself, I am starting with the easy changes. I’d love your opinion, too!

# Tip to Limiting Tics: Less Screen Time/Video Games

This article by Psychology Today suggests a screen fast of up to 3 weeks to calm the tics down. “Electronic screen media—since video games and computer use increases dopamineand tics are dopamine-related, it’s understandable that electronic media worsens tics.  For bothersome tics, I recommend a three week “electronic fast”(link is external) to normalize brain chemistry and improve sleep (restful sleep improves tics in and of itself).”

Having gone back and forth with this for over 8 years (see this post from 2011 when I attributed the Nintendo DS to devil’s dung) I have a few things to say about an electronic fast.

  1. It works.
  2. But is it worth it?

Yes, there are many moms (such as this post from ACN shows) that have seen improvement with their kids’ tics by eliminating screen time altogether, but this can be tricky if you have a child like mine. Sometimes the pressure and sadness over not being able to do what he loves make my kid tic more.

Many of my super holistic friends, as well as Stink’s naturopath, are of the ilk that just because a kid likes something doesn’t mean it’s healthy for them. For them it’s a no-brainer (no pun intended on the messing up one’s brain-er part) that if something is bad for you, it must go.

I choose, for example, not to drink wine at all because 3 glasses of it makes me nutty. The thing with video games, for this mama anyway, is that I don’t find the usage – in moderation – to be the same thing as drinking and driving over squirrels with my kids in the back seat of the SUV (playing video games).

I’ve decided, after battling the video game demon for 8  years, that a few tics in exchange for moderate video game use is okay. It’s not an all or nothing thing for us. Combined with many other healthy alternatives, I’m okay with it. For my kid, I let him play as long as there are adequate boundaries around it.

Here’s how I handle the video game usage

  • None Monday – Thursday
  • 2 hours/day Friday/Saturday/Sunday
  • Exercise is a must – at least 30 minutes Friday/Saturday/Sunday
  • Continue with healthy diet (Zero gluten, dairy to be removed in January)
  • Adequate sleep
  • More to come when I go through the list

Video Games – The Great Motivator

My kid likes video gaming enough that I use it as a motivator to get stuff done. “Hey, Stink, want an extra 20 minutes of Mario today? I need my windows cleaned.” He wins, I win.

With my kid turning 13 in January, I am more and more aware that he is not a kid who fits the “norm” by any means. He doesn’t play sports. He doesn’t care about popularity. He reads a book a week. He loves drama.  He still collects Pokemon. And… he connects with other boys who play video games. I am not willing to take away this love for him.

ADD vs. Tics

I am now looking at video games more from the angle of ADD and less from tics. The tics aren’t a concern for him personally. He has friends and doesn’t mind some twitches and noises. I am realizing that the ADD is causing more of a problem than the tics themselves, and this is the new lense I am viewing the computer time through.

To the Young Moms of Kids Who Tic

With your little tickers so little, you have the opportunity to set up the culture of your home in a way that works best for you. When they are small, it’s easier to make big changes. It’s a personal choice but I say you should think about it.

Looking Back, Would I Make a Different Choice on the Video Games?

As for me, would I make a different choice on video games if my son were younger and I could set the parameters early? Maybe. But then again, even when he was small, I didn’t make the choice to eliminate them altogether. My husband is a gamer. My kid, even at 3, loved to play Elmo on the computer. I suppose, deep inside, I wish my kid was into other things, but he’s not, and guess what? I am doing the best I can. I set boundaries on certain behaviors, let other things go, and try to live with what is. (But I won’t lie: video game usage has been my biggest battle and one I still fight to this day. It’s tiring.)

What are your thoughts on this? Think I’m nuts for letting my kid play video games when maybe they would be less without them? (PS: My kid is back on Taurine and his tics are down 50%. Video game usage hasn’t changed. For me, I made the right choice. More to come.)

Until next time, May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you can’t change, change the tics you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB


  1. This looks like an old post but i needed it so much. We are still in lockdown because of Covid 19 and my son is only 6. Of course with now 6 months at home and a very hot summer I gave in and let my son had more screen time than ever. His mild tics became unbearable vocal and physical (for us) and just 20 mins before reading this article me and his dad decided to put him on gaming fasting for a month (we will leave the tv as he gets bored of it) but I feel so stressed knowing that Ill face tough times while he “detox” in a lock down situation. Your article makes me feel a bit better. Hope i don’t cave in

    • Wow, I needed to see this. I am just about to pull my 9 year old off video games. He would get verbal tics on and off but now during quarantine there has been more gaming and guess what the tics are so much worse. They are more frequent and definitely more noticeable to him and others. I am hoping they go away like they have in the past, we shall see.
      Side note–the only other time he has had a verbal tic was when he took allergy medicine. I tired Claritin and Zyrtec….both of them had the same effect, verbal tics. The doctor said that those meds don’t cause the tics to come out but in his case they sure did. I stopped the meds and in a couple days the tics were gone.

      • Hello, would you update me on how your child is doing? My son also had tic that comes and go. I did realize I gave him kids Claritin 2 weeks straight and noticed the tics to become worst. Please please send me any info you can provide with your sons condition. Thank you.

        • Wow it sounds exactly like me , 6months old and a 6 years old in lock down …my son was playing much more video game then before and he started a wierd tic not too long ago … we stopped screen time for 4 days … but it is so hard In this world to not have any screen time .. his tics stopped … so we restarted tv couple hours a day but not more then 1:30-2:00 at a time … it is so hard to know what’s the limit and what’s gonna cause his tic to come back … how’s your son doing ? What’s your routine with tv ?

    • Our son who is turning 9 next week has been attached to his iPad since he was about 2 yrs old (and maybe even sooner than that) with pretty much unlimited screen time. Now, he’s into Fortnite a lot! He’s had tics come/go for years now, starting with sniffing, then coughing, then a jaw popping thing, a full body jerking thing, and now a lot of grunting. There’s also been some humming and maybe lip smacking mixed in there too. Things got noticeably worse in March at the beginning of the lock down in California. We have him in private school, and they resumed in-person class in September. His jaw popping tics rapidly decreased and went away entirely within a few weeks of being back in class. In November, I pulled him back out of in-person class to online only for the past month and a half and now he’s developed the very frequent grunting. He’s also been playing A LOT of Fortnite this past month. He’s returning to in-person class tomorrow and we’re also going to do a screen fast for a month after his b-day next week to see how it goes. I’ll repost with the results.

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