45 answers

Monitoring Video Games...

Hello video Moms... my husband has put a beast in my house... a PS3! My two boys, ages 10 and 8 are now couch potatoes.
We have a Guitar Hero and other various games. I have monitored very closely the games for their ages, so that is not an issue here.
I need some creative ways to monitor their game time. What time is fair? How do other Moms handle this? I would like to give them time to unwind and have a break in their daily routine. When they wake up.."can I play the play station?" and again many times when they are "bored"... My boys are active kids. They ride skateboards, swim and play board games. But, once they are on video games, it's a struggle to get them off. Is there a monitoring system any of you use? help! It's wasting the summer away!!

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for all of your responses! I am feeling that many of you are battling the same situations in your own households.
Today, we are making some changes and my husband is conforming too... This morning, we got outside and walked the dog for at least 30 minutes. We talked about our activities and chores for the day. Kids know what to expect from me and what the "family" reward will be if we accomplish some tasks together. Kids liked the fact that I would reward them by playing with them more!

Thanks for the ideas of the child business books.. I am purchasing them! I had my 10 year-old read some of your responses and he liked the fact that other Moms make rules too! (go figure?) . Also, I liked the 1/2 hour game time in the morning then
another 1/2 hour before dinner. If all chores are done... Rewards after dinner on video or computer with Mom and Dad playing, will depend on how many minutes they have read each day. Books are still important for summer... Right now, if friends come over and their game time is over.. oh well.. it's off! Otherwise, extra time can be when books are read for matched amount of minutes. I am just thinking that their friends might be on the couch with them reading books for extra time... (the neighbor Moms will love me for this!)

Smiles to all of you!

Featured Answers

my girlfriend omly allows them on the weekends or when a really important task has been completed having to do with school. Her children are 6 and 4.

Good Luck. This has been the fight of my life to get my son off the d*#@ video games. He's now 19 and I tell myself I don't have to do this anymore. Try DDR, at least they move when they do that one. It's kind of fun for everyone.

By Chance at the age of 8 & 10, did they do there chores first ?? make there beds, empty the trash, clean up there rooms, help mom or dad out, let me ask do they have memory cards in there units, which means when the memory card is in they can go back where they left off, now I know its mean but I take the memory card out of my games PS3 game & the other units, ( Why ) because they have to start all over again at the begining and the games become boring and to hard to start over, so when they are playing to much , and won't get off the games just threaten to take the memory card away from them.. I promise you they will get off really fast.

Good Luck

More Answers

One rule that we stick to in our house is absolutely no video games (computer, xbox, handheld, etc) until after eating breakfast (includes putting dishes away!) & getting dressed. This could motivate your kids to pour a bowl a cereal for themselves if they are not doing that already;)

1 mom found this helpful

Not that my kids have gotten to the video game stage....but, maybe equal times outdoors to video games. So, if they play outside for one hour then they can play video games for one hour. I try to get my kids out early and let them watch TV during the hottest part of the day.

Just some thoughts...

Happy 4th of July!

1 mom found this helpful

M., I'm a mother of four 10,8,6 & 1. I started playing video games so that I could relate to my children because video games are such a large part of their culture. Everyone in my family plays and there are some great games out there for the whole family. It is addictive, I mean literally addictive. They've done studies and found that it releases the same chemicals in the brain as a chemical addiction. I'm telling you I have started playing some games and been moving up in levels and have had to discipline myself to not play until my chores are done! I never understood before I played why my son could not shut off the game when I told him to!! Sometimes you'll lose all of your hard fought progress if you just shut off a game other times you can only save at certain spots so you just have to play until you get there. I encourage you to try playing with your boys. They'll be surprised and thrilled....as I write this my son is begging me to play a game with him. I can't explain the attraction except it's kind of like settling down in front of your favorite show when the kids are asleep and having that glass of wine or cuddling up in a chair with a really good book and a cup of cocoa and no one will disturb you. It's a zone out. Now, how to set limits? We allow our kids to play games only on fridays and saturdays. Our girls don't play as much and have no problems shutting the games off but my son could play for hours thus we have instituted a four hour limit per play day. He can use those four hours all at once or in increments it's his choice. There are adult video game heads who can play games for days without end. The four hour limit with his own control of when forces him to be disciplined about when he'll play...this is good practice. We also tie his playing to homework, chores, behavior...it is an excellent bargaining tool. We've even rewarded him by giving him extra time. Video games can be very dangerous for the child with an addictive personality. I have heard of parents throwing away their machines and literally having their child go through withdrawl symptoms. Remember it is chemically addictive. I have grounded my son for 4 weeks before. It was difficult but I think he discovered he could handle it, and today he hasn't even played (voluntarily). As long as you have well rounded boys (and it sounds like you do) set the limits and then just keep them enforced. Once the boys know the limits they'll adjust accordingly. This system has worked well for us. Oh, we didn't change it for the summer either. Same rules apply. Try playing....

Hope this helps

1 mom found this helpful

It looks like you are creating a fun, responsible home. =)

Our kids qualify for their video games, most of which are learning CDs. If all chores and homework are done, if they start school on time, and their lives are balanced then I let them say "yes" or "no" by saying, "have you qualified yet?" They learn quick to get everything done. At 5 PM they stop and do one more "before dinner" chore and then we eat and go on to enjoy reading and family time together. Then bedtime.

I think we all know if the video games are an earned reward and not a babysitter then we are less likely to be raising idle, couch-glued potatoes. Which is vital because we are developing tomorrow's leaders. I actually like the chance to have them say "no" if they ask and haven't yet qualified. If they become unglued, it is an opportunity to help them learn a bit more about what personal responsibility means. It has led to some great discussions.

Anyway, here is something else I might as well add. Diane Linderman has written some fantastic kid Entrepreneurial books if you want to gear your children toward good old fashioned summer businesses. There are 4 in the series and they are worth their weight in gold. Here is the website. I have the 4 book set and it is rocket fuel for a child's mind and summer!


For two years we kept our kids busy running their own veggie and flower start business in the spring followed with a summer long ice cream cone stand. Living by a park, it was a great success. Video games were a non-issue through both seasons. It really helped them get the hang of it. Now they have gone on to create more kid businesses and really enjoy it.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't allow any more than 1 hour of "screen time"/day that means, tv, video games (including hand helds like game boys), or computer. I have a 9 y/o boy who would be glued if this weren't the case, so now he knows the rule, and often does 30 minutes a.m/p.m

I would handle it the same way as watching TV. Just set time limits. Buy a timer and set it for 30 minutes or whatever is the right amount of time to get a good game in. This can also be such a great tool for you! They can earn more time with good behaivors or get time taken away with bad. It's great to hear too that they have other interests, including active ones. Find out what a fair amount of time is to play video games in a day and then together you guys can pick when they want to play, maybe a half hour when they wake and then a half hour at 3pm. Once their time is used, it's used, they have to find something else to do.

I understand your delema. We bought a Wii for our kids, its all they want to do. I found a article in a Family Fun magazine that I use. It's a chore jar. I have written various chores on colored sticks(craft sticks), each chore is worth so many points or minutes. (doing the dishes-10) After they have earned at least 30 they can play, but they use there minutes while doing so. It sets a time limit plus teaches them to work for what they want. I have been doing this for about 3 months now, with very little problems and lots of help with household chores.
I hope if you try this it will work for you, so far my kids still think of it as a game, or reward for helping out.
J.- mom of 3-ages 11,9,2
Best of luck!!!

I totally agree with the last two comments... setting a timer is the only way! And don't let them say, "but this level isn't finished" or "I'm almost past this part" (classic husband and kid stalling tactics!). They just need to save it and start again the next time you allow it. I did like the spliting of times - 30 mins in the morning and 30 mins in the evening. Good suggestion!

Hi M., we also have a playstation and my boys who are 7 and 5 love to play and its hard to get them off too. It was a struggle during the week trying to get everything done with school work so we ended up having a rule that there are no video games during the week. Only on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays. Also, no video games in the morning, just in the afternoon. I usually limit it to 1 to 2 hours but sometimes I am trying to get things done and it goes longer. Once we set the rule upfront about no games during the week or the afternoon, they accept it. It was hard to set it at first because they kept asking if they could play games but now when they ask in the morning or during the week I just remind them of the rule and they are good about accepting it. I work during the week so we usually have enough to do late afternoon/early evening to keep us more than busy. Its amazing how setting reasonable rules and sticking to it actually works. Just some thoughts for you.

Hi M.!
You are a great (and wise) mom for caring about your sons' brains and bodies!
There are some great tips from other moms who did it - the best way is to have a family meeting about time limits: clearly state the rules in advance, then carry them out.
More details are here, too:
and the main page at:

When I was growing up we were allowed to watch TV or play Nintendo equal to the amount of time we read a book. It worked for us - we "respected" our TV and video game time - and if we ever have something like that I'm sure I'll implement the same guidelines with my son. Good luck!

I understand your issues. We got a Wii at Christmas time and my kids were constantly bugging me to play it. We have a time limit on how long they can play at any given time. We have also set in place several other rules such as chores, teeth brushed, dressed, room clean before playing the Wii. then they are allow 30 minutes to play. They can get back on and play but not before spending 1 hour reading a book, practicing math or playing outside. Usually if they play outside they don't come back for a while. If they can't get these things done or they give me grief about getting off they can't play it the rest of the day and the following day. That's what works for us, good luck finding something that works for you.


Hey there girl! You know how we did it with our boys! We used the Time Scout. For those not familiar with it, its a monitoring sustem you plug your devices to monitored into and the parent adds a certain amountof time daily for the child(ren) to use. They have a card to swipe and once they've used the time on the card, the device shuts off. It's hard to find ways to keep the kids off the tube or in front of a video game. But I agree, that we have to find a way...too much tv isn't good.
One other thing we do, although it is an electronic activity, is to tell them that they have a certain amount of time on the computer at educational websites. They can do whatever they like there, but it must be educational in nature and they have to learn something from it.\
Hope you get some other great ideas. Talk to you soon!

I give my 10 year old boy no more than 2 hours any day on screens (includes Wii, xBox, DS, computer games). If he doesn't get 2 hours in on one day, it most definitely does not roll over to any other day. The deal is: screens for a max of 2 hours any day. It includes time spent watching friends play. It works for us. Blessings!

Hello, I have a fellow video game child. He is 9 and between the computer games, playstation, nintendo ds, and the tv....he is always "bored"! My husband and I give him 1 hour a day to spend on electronics, any way he chooses. He can earn an extra 10 minutes here and there for helping around the house (outside of his normal chores) and for good behavior. Sometimes we just give him more time for the heck of it, but he can't stack up his time...you use it or lose it. If his friends come over and they play, that counts too because we want them to play other things besides electronics. It is teaching him restraint and how to manage his time. This has proven to be very effective for us. (During the school year, he gets a 1/2 hour each day and gets 10 minutes extra for having a good day. During the school year he stack his time, but no more than an hour a day. I am a SAHM of a 9 year old boy and 2 girls: 6 year old & 1 1/2 year old). Good luck and hopefully this helps!

HI M.,

I have a 7 yo and He is only allowed to play at night. That way during the day he is outside. The summer nights are short. Between dinner and going to bed he only gets maybe an hr or 2 instead of all day. Hope that helps.

My son is what we call a vidiot. He loves all forms of electronic media...TV, computer, wii, gameboy, etc. I allow 1 hour of electronic media per day. How he choses to spend it is up to him. He can earn additional media time through his star chart. Basically, through good behavior, completing chores, reading, etc. he can earn additional time as a reward in 15 minute increments. During the school year, there is no gaming on school days/nights. Hence, Friday nights and Saturdays are permitted only. We have been known to use a timer to monitor time, but as long as expectations are known, I don't have a problem enforcing them. Good luck!

Hi M.,

Here's how I handled "the Beast." My number 1 rule was - if anyone got excessively angry at the game, like yelling at the TV or throwing the controller they had to stop playing immediately and forfeit their play time for the day. It's amazing how quickly they learn to control themselves. My second rule (for the summer) is they have to play outside first. The good news is that they usually found something equally interesting to do and found other friends to do it with and forgot (for a while) about the video games. I dont' think there is a magic number for time limits. I think you and your family can figure out what works best. I also gave rewards of game play. For example for each hour of reading they got an hour of video games and each book finished received additional times. I hope this helps. Best of luck.


Hi M.,
We allow one hour a day of video game playing, per child separately or together if playing a two player game. After that one hour they have to earn more time by doing some reading. One minute of reading earns one minute of playstation. It works so far. Good luck.

Just institute a FIRM time limit. My time limit (8 yr old boy, 4 yr old girl) is 30 minutes a day for any screen time (TV or computer). Exception is Friday night movie night.

My husband and I have decided not to purchase any video game unit because it tends to lead to this problem (over use, whinning, begging, unable to find something else to do, etc...) He also saw his first son (from a first marriage) become totally addicted, tune out the world, during his early teen years (though he was completely ignored by his mom - long saga.)

He did buy him a Guitar Hero, but (thankfully) he doesn't beg for it. It's a rare once in awhile thing.

BTW, if you want them to really "unwind" and rest, video games don't help that. If you pay attention to your body as you play, sometimes a game makes you go into "fight or flight." Your heart races, your brain and muscles go into "high alert." I was playing Galaga (from 1982) with my son and it was fun. But when I played Pac Man alone, it totally stressed my body out (I have adrenal fatigue, so I have to be careful about over stressing myself.)

So, the bigger question is, do these games affect the brain negatively down the road. Just something to think about. Some researchers have found that video game playing doesn't lead to "planning ahead" because everything is so much urgent in the "here and now" and "fight or flight." So it may not be the best activity for young boys to be doing ALL the time. Set the limit. :)

How about a ratio of let's say 2:4 (2 hours of video games for every 4 hours of other activities, either outside play, or perhaps reading ? pages of a book can translate to so much time on video games)You might let them draw up a contract then you negotiate until it is satisfactory for both of you. Leave room for re-notiations if it doesn't work out.

To me video games and television are really one in the same. Typically, it's recommended that children don't watch more than an hour of TV a day so I would say the same for video gaming. Since it's such a struggle to get them to stop playing and transition to another activity, it might be a good idea to schedule that 1 hour just before dinner (and if that doesn't work around scheduled activities you can always set a time of day for those days). If there is a time of day where you can't monitor them but don't want them playing it, they can't play it without the controllers so you can hide them or lock them up in those instances.

Hi M.:
I have to agree with Michele S on this one. I think as long as you set some time limits,you can be confident that your children will be satisfied with A little entertainment and freedom and At the same time,you make sure they're also getting some needed physical activity out doors. The best to you. J.

No playing on school nites during the school year. Weekends only 2 hrs max a day. No exceptions. These times include computer time etc.

Summer time 1 hour a day in the evening generally while I am cooking. In the summer they are allowed to play a small amount of time extra 30 to 45 minutes if friends are over or we are having adult company over.

The times did start out shorter but as my DH loves some of the games himself we compromised between what he thought was fair and what I thought was fair. We have found over time general our kids don't play the whole time they are allowed they find other activities they enjoy more and me and DH are always up to something.

Video games are fine in moderation if monitored properly and consitanly while having other fun family activities for our children

Well, I'm having the same problem with my 11, 9, and 8 year olds. I've decided to have a limit of 2 hours a day since it's Summer. And that 2 hours will be during a wind down time like when I'm making dinner so they don't do it during play hours of the day. We'll see how it works out. When school is back in, they only have 30 minutes a day because of homework, chores, etc. Let us know what you do. I'd love some more ideas! Good Luck!

we have a ps3 and a wii. I hate them. My husband LOVES video games. And 7 yr old wakes up early to play. my rule, I have NO IDEA if it is fair-1/2 hour a day. During a school week no videos games until after school friday. Okay, so, my rule is a 1/2 hour. and I try to do 15 mins in the am-15 in the pm. well, he can earn more if he does the wii fit. and if dad comes home early then he'll give him more time. My problem is my son gets all upset and crazy when he gets frustrated w/ the game. So, That is why I cut his play time. Good luck.

I have yet to find a successful way to monitor these games... Its easy to get caught up in the game. Also, with boys, there has been studies that show that boys have to complete tasks that they are given... Girls on the other hand can multi-task and can pull themselves away.

I wish you the best in your effort to stay involved.... It is definitely not an easy task.

Good luck

By Chance at the age of 8 & 10, did they do there chores first ?? make there beds, empty the trash, clean up there rooms, help mom or dad out, let me ask do they have memory cards in there units, which means when the memory card is in they can go back where they left off, now I know its mean but I take the memory card out of my games PS3 game & the other units, ( Why ) because they have to start all over again at the begining and the games become boring and to hard to start over, so when they are playing to much , and won't get off the games just threaten to take the memory card away from them.. I promise you they will get off really fast.

Good Luck

Hi My daughter is like that too! We got the WII a few months back and that is all she wants to do! So we set up a system that for how ever long she is outside playing she can have video/ computer time. She can only play outside in the morning cause it is REALLY hot here but it works out. If she sleeps in and can only get a hour of outside play then that is how long she can play with the video/computer games. She does have to read at least an hour a day also. We have some learning games on the computer that don't count as playing games too! We will also play card or board games. Hope this helps!

I limit my children to two hours total of tv/computer/video game time. I am so consistent about this that my children know to turn off the tv/computer when the designated time is up. My in-laws and friends are amazed at how compliant they are.
It's all about your consistency/supervision and telling them what their other options are: reading, activities, chores, etc.
You decide and make them comply.
Good Luck

Have you thought about investing in a Wii to replace your PS3 as many of the games require your kids to be up and moving and not just sitting on the couch engrossed in a game only moving their fingers. My two boys are younger, and I worry about how video games will affect their lives as they get older. We recently go a Wii and a Wii Fit and the whole family enjoys it. It is fun and competitive. We love the bowling and the boxing and so many of the other games... and I LOVE the Wii Fit as I feel like I am finally getting in shape for the first time in years! My husband loves the Wii Fit also and my 4 year old has a blast playing some of the games on the Wii Fit too. Wii puts a whole different spin on playing the video game and makes it a it more of a family thing. It also tells you how long you've been playing it so that you can easily manage how much time is being spend on video games each day. Best of luck to you.

There is a lot of great advice below so I'll try not to repeat. My sons love screen time of all types too--we made the rule that they have to stop when told or they will lose part of their next (timed) allotment, which eliminated temper tantrums. Also, whatever method (timer, earning through chores, etc.) and time limit you choose, make sure you and your husband are on the same page. I had to spell out for mine that although he thought he was being strict on weekends, he was allowing the boys to watch an hour plus of soccer on TV in the mornings, giving them time on the computer and the Wii, and then allowing them to watch him play Fifa on the Xbox. (He likes all this stuff as much as they do, so he isn't very sensitive to the passage of time.) My experience is that many of the methods the other moms suggested work very well, so pick the one you think will work with your sons and go for it. Good luck!

Good Luck. This has been the fight of my life to get my son off the d*#@ video games. He's now 19 and I tell myself I don't have to do this anymore. Try DDR, at least they move when they do that one. It's kind of fun for everyone.

Our son is allowed to play max of 2 hours of video games in the morning on Saturday and Sunday....because 15 minutes is not enough to get into the games an progress usually. Oddly, he manages to wake up at 5:30am on the weekends, but we have to wake him for school on school days. LOL He doesn't watch TV, unless it's a rare thing at Grandma's or the timing seems right for a movie. He knows the answer will be "no" during the week. If he asks to play during the week, then he loses 30 minutes on the weekend, so I don't have to hear the eternal question.

He has TaeKwonDo 3 nights each week and swimming 1 night each week.

He sets an alarm for 2 hours and is responsible for turning it off when the 2 hours is up. Sometimes I play with him or my husband will, so he gets to show off his skill and it brings us closer together.

We schedule his time (with plenty of down time) but we have him work in workbooks during the summer for an hour, we go to the park for basketball or let him ride his scooter. There is outside time everyday. Then his little brother takes a nap, so this is the time, he gets to find something to do. Boredom can be a good thing. It makes him get creative. I am not his entertainment. Yesterday, he made cupcakes for the 4th of July party all by his self, while I supervised. He loved it. basically, he has a loose schedule, so that he has structure and knows what to expect, but it's not so rigid that he can't breathe.

Did I mention that he is 5 going on 13? :)

The best way to monitor video games is not to have any at all. We don't have a Play Station, X-Box, or other game system at home. But my son has a few favorite computer games that he likes to play. He has to earn playing time through reading. For every minute that he reads, he earns a minute of computer game time. Game time is also a privilege. He can lose time for bad behavior (just the threat of losing 30 minutes usually makes his behavior improve). When he does not stop playing and save his game after his 5-minute and 2-minute warnings, then he is not allowed to play the next day. When he begs to play on a day he's not allowed to, my husband or I explain why he can't. This system has worked well for us.

my girlfriend omly allows them on the weekends or when a really important task has been completed having to do with school. Her children are 6 and 4.


This video game stuff is SERIOUS, these kids are addicted BUT......if they are good kids and this is the worst thing you have to worry about, its ok! I have girls, we have PS3 and sometimes they play for hours and then there are many days no one touches it. I think if their grades are good, they listen and are good kids....play! (of course not all day) Don't sweat the small stuff!

Okay, I hear ya on this issue! I have a 9 year old son and my husband over the years has managed to incorporate into our home ps1, ps3, Xbox, Wii and two DS lite's!!!! My son wants to play all the time even though he's an incredibly active child. If I said "hey let's go play outside together" he'd go play with me, but I don't always have the time to do that since I also have a 2 year old. So the way I've been managing my sons video game playing time for several years successfully now is a ticket system that I created. I allow him 1 hour of video games per day (that's what I feel is fair) I give him the control to choose when he plays by giving him two 30-minute tickets (that I made on the computer) I also give him three 30-minute TV tickets per day. When he wants to play, he gives me the ticket and I set the timer. When the timer goes off he has the option to continue his game for another 30 minutes or he can save the last ticket for later in the day. I try to be very strict about this so he doesn't try to manipulate "But my friend is over, can't we play a few minutes?" He really doesn't care for the system, but it works, so we stick with it. Oh yeah, and that's just during the summer. No video games at all during the school week.

The same monster is in my house. I really like when he comes to visit on Saturdays and Sundays, but that is about it...There have been early days when hours have lost and my stomach has been sick that time has been wasted. I have set a timer, today it a kitchen timer, sometimes the microwave timer.I also purchased something called www.timetimer it's great They just need to know the limits for their "screen time" be it T.V. computer, or video, It's summer!!!!!

Good luck, wait until the friends come over and want to play...

I have the same beast in my house with an added Wii too. I usually won't let them play in the mornings. I always say it's to early wait until later, then if they do all their chores I'll let them play. It's more of a reward than just sitting for hours on the games. I limit the time to two to three hours. Then do something else. It's hard I know. If you whine about it no PS3 tomorrow. They don't want that. Good luck!

I won't allow a gaming system in my home. I don't feel like anything good comes from them. Your boys are acive - the game system will change this. It will make them lazy. It will stunt their social growth as it is articifial interaction with "people" .. I may seem a little over the top, but I have witnessed first hand the damage these things can do to a family. It's just not worth it ..

Best of luck!

Hi M., I'm a mom of 2 boys as well and I have a rule in place that they can play video games max 2 hours per day during the week and zero hours on the weekends- during vacation time. On school days- it's no video games at all (unless we have company with other kids around) and a few hours over the weekend. I have told them since they were little "no video games 'till after 11am so don't ask". Since they know they only have 2 hours they ask me for my schedule of the day (any plans) and then they choose a time to play (since there are tv show as well) and they strategize before they play by chosing what games to play and sometimes chose who will play that day to get more play time and even get snacks so they won't have to pause their play. This avoids arguing about what games to play between each other and who had a turn etc...
After I know what time they have chosen to play I organize my time better in what things I need to do (cooking, laundry, you know mom stuff) then after vidoe game time- IF they give me an attitude about not playing anymore (which hardly ever happens now) I sit down with them and ask them about the game and what they did and they enjoy telling me about it. (Not that I always enjoy listening to vidoe game stories but I figure they can communicate with me and this gets them off the I'm bored subject.
Good Luck- hope this helps.

1/2 hour during school days seems enough but put a timer because you will not really realize how long they are eally playing. During non-school ays and weekends maybe 2 1/2 hour times once early then once in the evening.

I would tell them that they can play a certain amount of time (i.e. 1/2 hour, an hour) and it goes off after that whether the game is over or not. Set a timer if you need to.

Hi there!

My boys are limited to an hour a day, however for every minute they read they earn equal additional time, during the summer that is. I also have them help around the house doing simple chores before playing computer, WII, etc. Once they know you have decided firmly on a set time, I think your boys will adhere nicely to your rules! Also, if there is arguing with you over it, they will lose time. That really worked well for us!

During the school year, they only play on weekends...

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