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JinxieFox
03-06-2012, 05:10 PM
Alright, here's a run-down of our problem:

My son is 9-years-old, an only-child (for now), and kind of... interest-less.

He loves electronics. Video games are his one and only real interest. His dad gave him an iPod Touch after we divorced at the end of 2010. I wanted to kick him for that. What a dumb, dumb, dumb thing to give an (at the time) 8-year-old.

Of course he wants to be on it constantly; that or the computer. And when he's with his dad, he does have carte blanche to game, game, game.

When he's with me, his time is limited. In fact, my husband (his stepdad) is even more strict than I am about the time limits, and now he wants to take video games away entirely for 3 weeks to force my son to figure out how to alleviate boredom.

He's got loads of books and a roomful of toys. He just learned how to ride a bike, and is free to ride it down the street to visit and play with his local friends every day after school, and on weekends. He also goes to our base Youth Center every week day for 2 or more hours. So he gets plenty of social time and outdoor time with other children. Unfortunately, he just discovered that the Youth Center has a computer room too. Yeesh. We don't want that to turn into a way for him to get around our 1-hour-a-day rule. :/

Our concern is that my son has *no* other interests. He's into drawing, but when he sits down to try, he constantly whines that he "fails" at it. We've suggested he try to draw comics like George and Harold do in "Captain Underpants", or at least come up with interesting characters. We try to encourage him to build and play with Legos, and he does come up with some cool stories for his Lego people.

But he really seems to have no interests. Even if he indicates that he enjoys something, he mopes about if we suggest he do the activity. Sending him to play with his toys is a frustrating struggle. We want him to do something other than play video games and read "Calvin & Hobbes" books (which, I must say, is a huge improvement over him playing video games all day at his dad's; I'd rather he read than game).

My husband believes 3 weeks of no electronics, and with zero ideas from us (as I always say, "I'm not a cruise director") will stimulate my son to find a way to alleviate his own boredom.

I'm not so sure; I feel that's too strict. Hubby feels it's too strict too, but hopes to "cleanse" his mind of the video-game mindset. Because everything he does, he attaches video game-style rules to it. Hubby finds that disheartening (so do I), because he doesn't really use his imagination to create stories. He uses it to create video games in real life.

I feel that a partial overhaul of our homeschooling will help a *little* bit. I want to increase our overall school time, and add a new activity, unit study or project each week or every day (depending on how long each lasts). This will be something completely unrelated to our curriculum, and its purpose will be to try something new, to see if it stimulates his interest and entices him to pursue the topic.

Even though he's an only child, both my husband and I feel that I shouldn't have to micromanage every single moment of my son's day. We've tried to explain to him that our interests are part of what make life so fun for us. I know I wake up excited for each day's new possibilities, but it feels like my son just waits for each moment to pass until he can play a video game again. *sigh*

Thoughts? Ideas? Partial lobotomy?

dbmamaz
03-06-2012, 05:21 PM
Orion was off all video games for . . idk, maybe a month? on a bet w my husband. It made no long term difference. Orion will randomly get interests to pursue other than video games, but not very often. When he DOES show an interest in something, I try to let him do that instead of school, as much as possible. but i liked what someone said on another post somewhere - some kids are specialists and some kids are generalists. Specialists have strong interests, generalists dont, usually.

what are your and your husbands strong interests other than gaming?

christineoc
03-06-2012, 05:59 PM
Wow. Sounds just like my son (now 16) at 9. Right down to the Calvin and Hobbes and making life a video game. Very bright, as your son seems to be, which I think is part of why it is so disheartening. It has gotten SO much better, but I must say, he can still get sucked into a video game or tv show, and for that reason we still have strict limits, especially during the week (he goes to ps). Like Cara, we did electronic fasts, but they never had a lasting effect.

Specific things that helped: karate; subsituting something attractive to him for the video time (which usually ended up being some active time with one of us or a new book); requiring his "help" with cooking, cleaning, a project.

More general things that helped: seizing on any little indication of a potential interest and encouraging him to pursue it (in our case it was fencing, swimming, jogging), a bit of maturity, and girls. (He once told us he was grateful, after the fact, that he'd been denied electronics for so long due to his poor grades because "he wasn't so obsessed with it all and girls really don't think boys discussing their games are cool".)

I think there are boys (and girls) that have great imaginations and live in their heads, and we just need to work harder to bring them out of there periodically.

Hope this helps. I sure feel your pain.

theWeedyRoad
03-06-2012, 06:12 PM
I hear ya too.

My ds also has a roomful of toys. Christmas sucks because we know if it isn't either legos or vid games, he won't use it... maybe ever. He has a kenex set in his room right now that has never been out of the box. I bought him "The Dangerous Book For Boys" to try to spark interest in something else, but that book is gathering dust somewhere.

For me, I just won't buy any new games unless it's a special occasion. He has what he has and when he gets bored, he'll whine a bit, play on it a bit, then find something else to do for awhile. He always comes back to the computer, but at least he isn't stuck on it. It scares me though- I have a 5yo nephew who has access to vid games and not much else to do. When he spends the night, after an hour or two he starts saying he wants to go home. I suspect he isn't homesick.. just jonesing for his x-box.

Recently I bought a huge box of clay, and I just keep trying. He isn't in love with that stuff like my dd is (she also likes the computer, but divides her time in a much better fashion) but as long as he will do something else, I'm forcing myself to be content. I do find that my ds gets bored quickly with games that don't involve creativity (he loves minecraft, but only in creative mode.. the last few days he's been designing his own skins) or strategy (age of empires was his favorite for a long time). So that's something I think.

Jackielyn
03-06-2012, 06:52 PM
I certainly feel you...I have 2 boys who are obsessed with screens! AGH...they even have each other to play with...we took away the PS3 during the week. It's just not an option and they stopped asking (OK, occasionally my 6 yr old will ask). They still have the computer and the iPad...but if I didn't force them to shut it off nothing would be accomplished...they'd be in their PJ's with no teeth brushed until they went to bed...maybe they would eat and go to the bathroom...
All I'm seeking is a healthy relationship with the screen. Yes, they are nice to play on but we do have to do other things during the day. Get dressed, brush our teeth and eat healthy food. Maybe throw in a little school work and tidy up the house.
But I haven't figured out how to make that happen yet besides just eliminating screens all together, which isn't fair because I use a screen and I like my screen and so does their dad. I've thought about eliminating all screens during the week and just play on the weekends or when their dad invites them to play.
Anyway, my ramblings haven't really helped you at all! lol Would your son play sports at all? My boys love sports, mostly football. My 9 yr old is pretty interest-less, he's not a self-motivated learner...video games and football. We take a craft class and he is OK with it but wouldn't choose to do that himself. HUM...I think picking a unit study and exploring other things sounds like a good plan...I guess I just wanted to let you know you're not alone ;)

Accidental Homeschooler
03-06-2012, 07:55 PM
My girls aren't all that interested in gaming. I have put the tv in the basement though when it seemed like, as a family, it was getting too important. We usually did it in the Spring and then when winter came brought it back up (happy day). When we first would take it away it would be two weeks of misery and then nobody seemed to miss it. Now we limit screen time. I don't have to do this with my 14yo but with the 6yo she gets so much time and then it's done for the day. I don't think either of my kids has an intense interest, unless you count money. My older dd is destined to be a venture capitalist. It is fairly frightening sometimes. They get interested in something and do a lot of it and then move on to something else.

KristinK
03-06-2012, 09:03 PM
sounds alot like my dd8. She really shows NO interest in anything. or she will for a bit, but then within a few weeks she's done with it. I keep hoping something will stick, but so far it hasn't - ballet, horseback, figure skating, art classes, etc etc. Never sticks with anything more than one session. For xmas she begged and begged for a drum set...she got an electric one and has NEVER played it. Same with the guitar she realllllly wanted 2yrs ago. Same with the Barbies, Ponies, Polly Pockets, etc etc. it all just sits.

She is obsessed with tv and computer time. Drives me batty. First question out of her mouth when we get in from being out somewhere: "can we have TV?" It's constant nagging for it. And if, heaven forbid, we're extra busy one day and there's no time for tv??? holy meltdown!

I don't know what the solution is. I have set rules now of NO tv or "fun" computer until after all schoolwork, chores, and laundry is done, and outdoor time has been had. But there is still alot of whinign for tv, and whines about being "bored" without it, etc.

Numericmama
03-06-2012, 09:09 PM
What about Legos? There is a lot of room for creativity there. We have a simple machines Lego kit and are going to move up into robotics. Does he like robotics at all?

Also, is he interested in any time period - like knights or Robin Hoody things?

I see where your husband is coming from. Sometimes we can be so "entertained" for a lot of our time that it can be hard to sink into other, simpler or deeper activities.

Or does this feel like a phase? Can you include him in what you are doing?

I'm going out on a different direction now. We are using a modified Waldorf curriculum. And my son has tracked along perfectly with the child development stuff I've learned through that framework. My understanding is that there is a 9 year change where kids become more introspective and are wondering where they fit into the world. Maybe this interestlessness is an indication that he is working through that process. My son is showing signs of starting that process himself. So, I am trying to help him find the answer to that question through giving him more chores in the family and starting to do community service work. Our curriculum next year is includes things like gardening or farming and building structures like forts. Could he get involved with any activity like that? It may not be that your offer it, it may be more of - "this year we need to grow some food. You need to help me set up a garden bed (chose the pots and soil mixtures). You know, what ever works in your house.

I'm not actually going to talk about it directly with my son, I'll just set up situations that I think will meet these needs.

I hope this helps. I know I can seem a bit wooey at times. But it really works for us.

Best,

MrsLOLcat
03-06-2012, 09:53 PM
I won't be any help, either. I've tried taking away electronics for weeks (up to a month) at a time just to see what would happen. What happens is the epitome of the old adage, "Idle hands are the devil's playground." He gets into mischief instead of doing anything productive. I have absolutely no ideas. I can't really say I'm surprised. DH taught himself everything about computers starting at about DS' age and he's STILL on an electronic device as often as possible. I think the best we can do is offer a million alternatives and hope that our constant bickering at them to do something different will kick in during adulthood. But I'm feeling a bit pessimistic tonight since DS came out and begged to have his camera back (he's currently on a two-week hiatus from electronics after I caught him on his computer at 4 a.m.).

Jeninok
03-06-2012, 10:43 PM
We struggle with this too, I have had to ban Roblox, and I set a timer for Minecraft and anything on his Ipod. We have a no screens rule until after dinner during the week, unless it is a documentary I have chosen, or an activity I have set for him on the computer. There are times when I tell him no more screens and he will just go sit on the couch and stare into space.....I kind of figure that might be a good thing, at least he is thinking and contemplating. I also don't buy toys anymore, he gets then for holidays or if he has some money/gift cards saved up. He has a million legos of all kinds, and Star Wars stuff, and halo stuff than any kid needs, and he rarely plays with them.

He does draw a lot, which I like, and he is pretty good at it, and he is really really good with animals.

The cats adore him, they used to greet him like puppies when he came home from school. I try to encourage this as much as possible and hope he might go into zoology or be a vet or something when he grows up.

He is still too young this coming summer, but next I am going to try to get him in a volunteer program at our local exotic animal rescue place. They have everything from pigs to Fennec Foxes and Cotamundi, to Lions. Obviously the kids only help with the safest of the animals.

JinxieFox
03-07-2012, 04:35 AM
Cara, we have pretty diverse interests. For me it's writing (of course!), genealogy (and I'm going to get my son to do a Family History unit study soon), cross-stitching, and jigsaw puzzles. My husband is into fixing and restoring old cars, building/carpentry in general, and remote-control vehicles. He did get my son into remote control cars! We just need some good weather Sundays to get out to the BMX track for them to play with their cars. :)

We don't expect my son to be just like us, in terms of interest, but we'd like to see him do *something*. Generalist... That makes sense.

Christine, that is exactly what we do. When he indicates an interest, we encourage him to pursue it - drawing and writing are both things he has mentioned time and again. Then he tries and complains that he "fails". So we remind him that practice is what helps a person get better at something. It's a bit of a circle, around and around. >.< But we keep at it. He did take Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido, but has no interest in pursuing either.

WeedyRoad, he loves Minecraft! We don't mind him playing that, but then he wants to play shooter games. Blah. When it comes to Minecraft, we do our best to praise his work. Hubby suggested he build a castle recently and gave him the David MacCaulay book, "Castle". It worked. My son made a very nice, classic castle. That's his current MC project each day (for the time he is allowed on the computer).

Jackie, your 9-year-old sounds like mine. Phew! I definitely feel better knowing that I'm not the only parent wondering about this! When I was 9, I could spend hours at the library, and reading or writing all day long. I'm still the same at 37. Must be a generation thing now... Available entertainment has certainly changed.

Julie, money isn't a bad interest, right? That is, as long as she shares it with you. ;)

Kristin, I must say that since my son has learned to ride a bike, he's much more apt to go outside and play, which is great! But, yeah, time indoors (like on rainy days such as this) are generally "I'm bored. Can I watch TV? Can I play on yours or Daniel's (my husband's) computer? Can I check my iPod?"

Jennifer, he has so many Legos! My husband had huge tubs of them from his childhood and now they are my son's. Every day, I say, "Go make a story with your Lego guys! Build a castle! Build a fortress for your Bionicles! Build!!!" After all, Minecraft is just virtual Legos, and we point that out to him too.

He really did enjoy the medieval history studies we did in 2nd grade, and he does have some of the Lego Castle sets. He also loves animals. There aren't any opportunities to work with animals here, but we just rescued an orphaned wild rabbit. I want him to be a part of helping us release it into the forest this weekend, but I'm afraid he'll just cry and be sad (goodness knows my husband is setting an awful example on that one! He wants to keep it and I'm like, "I know you love it, but it's wild. We've given it a warm, dry home away from the flight line. Now let's take it to the forest, where it belongs." *sigh*).

I think he'd do well with some sort of scouting or SCA, perhaps. Again, things like that are limited here, and even more limited since we're a one-car family. But, yeah, maybe we should revisit medieval history as a separate project/unit...

Heh, Sarah. So you know what it's like. :)

OMG, Jeninok, Roblox. I hate it! It's just a virtual Lego-fied version of shooter games, and all we'll allow, but if he starts playing it, his computer time is immediately decreased. An hour (or a bit more) for creative games like MC or educational games/CD-roms, and 30 minutes for Roblox. Blah!!! iPod may be checked morning, noon and night, but the time is limited. He may check his games where things are "growing" and "hatching" and such, but no watching YouTube videos on it, or anything like that.

And, yes, he sits and stares into space a bit, or flops down and mopes.

I think Jennifer is right about him figuring stuff out, because he's definitely in that transitional phase to the logic stage. And, yes he's into drawing (in fact, he's drawing a robot right now for his stepdad) and good with animals. The "good with animals" thing works well, because once we buy a house, my husband gets a job (as a veterinarian), and are settled, we want to have a shelter/rescue. My son would be more than welcome to participate, but that's not even going to start until between 2013 and 2018. It's a long-term plan/endeavor.

For now, I guess my idea of adding some unit studies/projects independent of our curriculum might help introduce new ideas and potential new interests. Thank you all so much for your input and for letting me know that this seems to be a fairly common issue with children in this age range. :)

MrsLOLcat
03-07-2012, 09:38 AM
I did think of a couple of things this morning because DS brought them up - models. We bought a cheap plastic one for DS, and he loved it because he could do it entirely by himself. He displayed it in his room proudly. It eventually fell apart, so we got him another one with the admonishment that he really needed to get the "real" ones with glue involved if he liked doing models. He put that one together easily and announced today (mind you, this is five months later, but still...) that he thinks he's about ready for glue. He likes woodworking but of course wants to do things way beyond his skill level. He'd love to get into RC planes, but I won't spend the cash on those for him until he stops crashing his RC Millennium Falcon in the house :p He'd love to build rockets. He likes robotics.

And, of course, none of these are cheap. But they are ideas, I guess!

ginnyjf
03-07-2012, 04:41 PM
I've waited a bit before responding because threads like this press all my guilt buttons and then I get worried and defensive. In my signature, I indicate that Zack is a hardcore gamer. He truly is. It's his most overriding interest. In the past I tried to limit the type of games and the amount of time he spent playing, but it seemed to exacerbate the problem.

We homeschool from 9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. or 3 p.m. He usually takes a walk with his dad around 4:30 p.m., we eat supper together at 6 p.m. and then clean up the kitchen and wash dishes. Every Thursday is "no electronics night" so we play a board game or take turns reading from a book until bedtime. After he goes to bed, he has permission to read as late as he wants and he usually finishes off a book every night. The rest of his time is spent on his computer. Believe me, I feel guilty about it constantly, but he is very well-behaved, polite, helps out around the house willingly when I ask, keeps his room neat and works hard at his assignments. He sees any limitation of his computer time as a punishment rather than incentive to try other things.

I guess I've approached it in an unschooling way. After I get my work done for the day, I like to relax by reading or writing. I don't want anyone telling me I need to spend my time differently and I wouldn't appreciate having a time limit put on my recreation. If someone told me I couldn't read or write a story for three weeks, I could do it, but I would spend all my time thinking about books and I would go crazy on them after the three weeks were up. So if Zack has completed all his responsibilities, I try to be considerate of how he spends his recreational time. It hasn't really backfired yet. After he got carte blanche to play shooters, he got tired of them after a month and very rarely plays them because they're "boring." He's moved on to Minecraft and Garry's Mod and TF2 (for the trading and crafting aspects and the "unique team-oriented gameplay" - his words).

I just don't know what a good balance is. He doesn't like any type of organized sports or clubs because he's very introverted. He has a nice little group of friends, but they're all gamers, too. I trust that as he grows older, he will develop and cultivate other interests. But he's growing up in a generation where computers are everyday household tools. I think he's developing a skill set and social skills for an evolving society; one where interaction is largely based in an electronic medium. Or maybe I just tell myself that so I can sleep better at night. :)

I'll be interested to hear how the three-week fast works for your son.

dbmamaz
03-07-2012, 05:04 PM
You know, i was thinking a little more, too - when I was younger I always felt like a failure because everyone told me I should get a hobby, but I wasnt interested in anything. My mom would buy me magazines or things she thought I would be interested in, and I'd feel terribly guilty that I wasnt interested. I even tried playing D&D, and that wasnt interesting either.

I did read a lot - i remember feeling guilty because i'd spend the entire day curled up in a chair reading. (we often were banned from tv, plus there really were only 3 channels, not much for kids)

When i first discovered computer games, I freaked. They were SO MUCH FUN! Even more fun than reading! A friend at the hang-out house i spent several years at let me play on his computer and i felt SO GUILTY - here I was hiding in a small room on a computer during a party, when I should have been socializing!

My husband loved the fact that I was so in to gaming, even if, when we met, I mostly would only allow myself to play solitaire. But he introduced me to World of Warcraft (sneakily - he got an account for our 4 year old, and i was going to 'help') . . . I literally cried because I realized I didnt have time for it. He promised to make time for me, and I played for several years, until homeschooling became too much work and we both got sick of WOW

Now, I know i need to balance my time, but I no longer feel guilty every time i enjoy a game (or a show). I'm done beating myself up over not having 'real' interests. And then I finally noticed that cooking kinda counts as a hobby by now.

So idk, maybe some of us really DONT have interests? and thats ok?

KristinK
03-07-2012, 05:43 PM
ginny I see no reason for you to feel guilty!! if he's HSing from 9-2:30ish and then helping out and etc, that's awesome. that can't leave a whole lot of time for gaming..?? Sounds like you HAVE found a great balance, since he's busy doing all kinds of other things all day...

hmmm, Cara, good point. maybe that's true about interests. And really, even though I've had alot of interests, I've never really gotten that INTO any of them. And some people make a great living being Gamers, so it can't be all bad ;)

Shaunam
03-07-2012, 07:56 PM
I think you just described my kid! I keep hoping he will show some interest in *something* so I can stick his butt in a sport, or art classes, or hand him a musical instrument, or teach him to dance. He just does.not.care...about anything but his DS and Legos! I've offered to enroll him in soccer or karate. I've offered art lessons. He has dozens of instruments at his fingertips (my SO is a musician). It's soooo frustrating! I could just enroll him in something and make him do it, or bribe him or something, but I don't want to waste what little money I have. I wanted so badly to take gymnastics when I was a kid, but never had the chance because we didn't have the money. DS has no idea how lucky he is that he actually has the chance to do something extracurricular!

MrsLOLcat
03-07-2012, 09:29 PM
Ginny (and everyone else to whom this applies), I don't think you guys should feel guilty for letting your kid indulge in something that they love! I would love to be able to do that for DS. Really, I would. My problem is that he gets very angry and agitated when I ask him to stop playing, even for family events or meals, and there would be no way I could have a "no electronics" night (even if it was regularly scheduled) because he would try to get around the rules. He sneaks. I can't stand that, either, so that's why he has to have electronics restricted. I've tried letting him have electronics as much as possible for a few weeks, and it totally backfired. He was completely angry and hateful whenever he wasn't in front of a screen. Anyway, it's a little bit of a double standard, but DD gets electronics almost every time she asks... mostly because she's not begging for it 24/7 and she is polite and respectful when we give her simple boundaries. She doesn't ask often, though. She likes computer games and movies and playing on her DSi, but she doesn't sneak and understands that these are games, not life. DS has issues with that :)

dbmamaz
03-08-2012, 12:36 AM
My kids protest when we say its time to get off, but we constantly remind them that if they cant be responsible enough to get off when we say its time to get off, then they dont get to be on at all. They limit their whining. We sometimes have family game nights, but just randomly. and they do have some interests. I mean, the other day the two of them were writing a fan fic together - very cute. Orion got in to sewing for a bit, and even bought himself a sewing machine once. he got in to wood carving, but dh bought him a set of good knives and didnt even mention safety (i stayed out of it since it was dh's idea and dh gave them to him, i just assumed he'd say SOMETHING) so 20 minutes later I was driving him to get stitches. He lost interest after that. He tries a lot to find kids to be social with on line, but its hard. when he had a minecraft server, he had a few friends that would play with him - but he couldnt afford it and they wouldnt pitch in, and he never sees them any more on line (2 of them moved away and the other 2 live pretty far away anyways).

Raven still spends time playing pretend. and he has 2 friends in the neighborhood. he's in to space, too.

JinxieFox
03-08-2012, 04:20 AM
Sarah, the models are a great idea! Also, you are right about the concerns about feeling guilty. Each parent is different, and we aren't all going to rear our children the same way. Besides, seeing those different points of view is helpful to me, because someone with a different way of handling kids + video games = me being given ideas I might not have considered. :)

Ginny, we aren't definitely taking things away... just considering it for now. We know that letting him overindulge doesn't bore him. He does get video game carte blanche every Saturday (for age-appropriate games, of course), while we play D&D. Those are the nights he gets the most done in Minecraft. Other days, he gets to play video games for roughly an hour, give or take.

Cara, I think that's probably it. He's found what he likes and that's probably the way he'll be. Hm, I don't want to make him feel bad or push him to be interested in other things, so much as show him that there's so much more out there. And if he gets into other things (in addition to video games), that'd be great! You know what I mean?

I think about that too, Kristin - that today's young gamers could be tomorrow's writers, programmers, testers, etc. in the video game industry. ;)

We actually have to push him to play with his Legos, Shauna! Heh. We both wish he'd play with them more. Actually, we don't buy him toys if he doesn't play with the ones he already has. So that's kind of a struggle: he sees a cool new toy and we say, "You don't play with the ones you have. We aren't wasting money on this."

Thank you so much for your responses. I don't want to push him in one direction or another, but rather encourage him to be open to exploring everything else out there too. Hope that makes sense.

Woogie
03-08-2012, 09:07 AM
Sounds like my life! One of the things that works here, is staying out of the house a lot. We also found a compromise.. no playing computer during the week, one hour of educational stuff instead...Clever Dragons, Teaching textbooks (which as a gamer type he LOVES). I also discovered The Murderous Maths and Horrible science books, which were the first books that really interested him. We started watching "The big bang theory" together, and we make sure to watch lots of documentaries focusing on pursuing dreams, finding passion, etc. Becoming elmo, Behind the folds (an awesome origami/math/art/science doc, with a brilliant homeschooled kid turned MIT genius!). I talk to him (gently) about how we eat like we live "junk food" is fun, but we mostly need veggies and protein...same thing with our lives... "junk" games are fun, but we mostly need stimulation, learning, passion. I have stopped trying to fight with him over it, and he knows that on weekends, when we are not planning to go anywhere, he may go nuts on the screens a bit.
When he showed an interest in a learn to draw video game characters book, I jumped on it.. at least he's drawing! I realized sometimes that I was not honoring his requests if they related to video games, so I tried to work harder.. got him a few "guide to" video games books, which have a lot of complex reading..lol
We also gave free reign on Toontown for awhile, since he had to type to his friends to communicate and work together. (I try very hard to steer him towards "good" games, and we keep all the violence out!)
Believe it or not, one my son's new interests (at 9) has become algebra. He's absolutely fascinated by it. So, eventually, if you just calm the screens, (but don't villianize them!), you can make room for other things, without taking away their love for them. Think of it as someone putting you on a sudden diet... You'd probably whine and hyper-focus on the cookies they wouldn't let you eat! :)
Also: http://www.throwingmarshmallows.com/right-brained-links/
nice resources here for right-brained learners (which most gamers seem to be!)
Ok, done ranting! We've battled with this for years, hope some of this helps!

Bugs
03-08-2012, 12:12 PM
I think there is a program where kids can learn to code and write their own video games- I'll see if I can find it. Its within his interets, but something different, a good skill to have.

Do you think he'd do that?
(I know its still screen time, but its creative, educational, skill building screen time)

zcat
03-08-2012, 02:08 PM
My dd(12) is currently obsessed with video games, old video game systems, video game characters. She likes to use her computer to make cartoons/edit photos or type stories.
She relates crafts and other non-game activities back to games. This is how she is. A couple of years ago she was obsessed with sloths and everything was sloth related.
I do limit her time with video games but it doesn't make her interested in learning to knit... unless it was learning to knit a Yoshi doll.

Would your ds enjoy something like snap circuits or a robot building kit?
Does your ds have a camera? Maybe he would be interested in getting into photography and editing the pictures.

mratts
03-08-2012, 08:49 PM
Well, my brother-in-law is a video game animator, my sister and brother have been hard-core gamers since birth, my husband and I play WOW, I have a virtual farm that I make sure I check on every time it's time to harvest the crops...so I feel a bit of a hypocrite when I tell DS (7) to go find something else to do that's not electronic. We do limit games at certain times of the day - not during school time, not after 8pm. He has to go outside and play if the weather is nice. He has to read with me before bed, though that's more of a tradition than a rule. He has to stop playing and help around the house if I need him to. And if I feel that he's not interacting with humans enough, I'll tell him it's time to turn it off for a while. That's the happy medium I've found that works for us. I can't force him to like other things, though I have tried to expose him.

I can say it's refreshing to hear so many people talking about acting out video games. Both my kiddo and my niece play "real life Spore" or "real life ... whatever". Good to know it's not just a genetic anomaly!

Good luck, and I hope you can find a happy medium that works for your family!

JinxieFox
03-09-2012, 02:39 AM
Woogie, I've definitely tried to bring in the interesting, funny curricula, such as Horrible Histories. He likes Teaching Textbooks very much. Yup, I recognized him as a right-brained learner years ago, in our early homeschooling days. Since he's into drawing most of all, we encourage that on a daily basis. There's no limit or expectation on it - he can draw whatever strikes his fancy. :)

Oddly enough, he's super-sensitive about death, but wants to play the violent games. Wha?! Heh. He's not allowed on my violent Steam games, though. Only puzzle games and RPGs. Lately he's been playing my "Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale" game, and that's cool because it's got an educational touch. You need to run your shop well to keep customers buying things - figure out percentages you will charge for items and such, and make sure the prices are fair, or NPCs won't buy things from you. That's the type of stuff I like to see him play.

Also, his stepdad loaded a bunch of games like Sim City 3000, Sim... er... Sim Park?, and Lego games and something about physics (all old CD-roms) onto my son's personal laptop. He has carte blanche with his own laptop AND the Nintendo in his room. The time we limit is the time spent on *my* laptop, on Steam, and on his iPod. We feel that the laptop games are all acceptable at any time of day, because they're educational. The Nintendo games are acceptable at any time of day, because that was back when games required perseverance to complete, and required more skill with timing and puzzles.

Bugs, I think he would enjoy that, and as we delve into our 5th grade curriculum later this year, I'd like to include something practical as far as computers.

Kim, we've tried kits of those sorts and, once they're assembled, he loses interest. We've also tried to see if he would enjoy photography, and he does to an extent, but he's like me - pictures are only taken when he's in a touristy place. Not because he sees something interesting and different. His stepdad is into photography and tried to encourage this, but it didn't last long.

It seems that drawing is the one non-video game thing that really endures in his interests, so I try to get him into art-related activities. For example, our base's youth center has an "art club" once a week, and I've suggested he participate in that. I signed him up for art camp one summer. Last month, he told me he wants to go to an art college. So that may very well be it for him, interest-wise.

And that's cool! I just want him to know that there's so much more out there too.

Megan, my husband and I game, and my husband collects consoles (they have their own room - they need it). Our basic "happy medium" thus far has been to limit him to 1-2 hours a day (when he wants to play on Steam/my laptop), he can play as long as he likes on his own laptop's educational games, and on the NES in his room. He also gets most of Saturday afternoon and evening to play on my laptop/Steam during our D&D game, while our friends are here. He chooses to go outside very often to ride his bike, and he knows that between 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., he's either supposed to be at the Youth Center or playing with his friends in the neighborhood.

The 1-2 hours he spends in the early afternoon playing games on my computer is *my* time to relax and read or cross-stitch, and watch a TV show or two, or a movie.

So the timing and all is fine, and the balance is fine. Our concern is that he seems to waste a lot of time between gaming "sessions". He mopes around and sometimes does nothing. It's like he's just waiting for each gaming moment to come along. That's not an everyday thing, but some days it's quite obvious.

I think I can relax and not worry too much about it. He gets a very healthy amount of outdoor activity and social time, as well as school time. It's his at-home leisure time we want to see more "balanced" beyond video games. But maybe this is how it will be for him. As long as he understands that he needs to do his schooling (or, when he's older, go to work) each day, and that video game time comes later, but that a social life is important too, I probably shouldn't worry too much about it.

We'll keep encouraging the drawing and add that extra unit/project on to his school day, just to see if anything else out there ultimately tempts him to get into something in addition to his gaming. :)

Thanks, all!

Gabriela
03-09-2012, 08:24 AM
My son gets so horrible when he plays video games - rude, uncreative, bored, anxious, fidgety, loud...
We had an extra computer and put it in his room for a while, but when we saw how he got, the computer was outta there.
Now he only plays when he remembers, on weekends, and when dh's computer is on and not being used by dh - which means about once every two weeks or so.

Maybe it's harder to do this in other countries/contexts because every kid on the block is playing video games.
But I think the 3 weeks thing, and then further cut-down on screen time, would be good. I just hope this doesn't make being with his dad more appealing.

I had a friend with that problem.
She was a vegetarian, yoga instructing, candle and incense burning, neohippie.
Her son spent half the week with her, and the other half with her video-game playing, McD-eating, money-loving Xhusband, just blocks away.
As the boy got older, he started stretching the time at his dad's because of the junk food and the video games. Even though he was crazy about his mom, really sweet and loving.
Eventually, my friend gave in and bought all the games and bigmacs, so that he would want stay at her house.

It's definitely a dilemma.
Is there any way you can get his dad to participate in the screen-time reduction when your ds is with him?

Lou
03-09-2012, 10:17 AM
My son will hip hop from interest to interest and then become interest-less. I have found that my son's boredom is harder on me then him. Yet, when I allow him to be bored and do not participate in the 'fix' a new interest does surface and he finds his own entertainment. As for screen time and boredom, I do eliminate screen time (tv, computers games, etc) completely to spring board the 'get out of boredom' phase. I generally will kick him outside to play. Your child is older, so I'm not sure what he'll get INTO if you just simply kick him outside? Or if pre-puberty things are taking place? etc...but I find for us, my son's boredom is much harder for me to get thru then him. I just have to step back and let him be bored, listen to his complaining, nagging for screen time, moping, etc. It's one of those things that triggers me to 'fix the problem' and the problem is generally ME FIXING IT. :(

Avalon
03-09-2012, 07:16 PM
My dh was also an only child, and he's been heavily into computers and video games since the PC became available in the early 80s. His interest has never abated, he has never wished he did something else, lamented all the hours spent gaming, felt it was time wasted, etc. His career for the last 12 years has been in the video game industry, and he is friends with lots of people who are exactly like him.

Fortunately, my dh also learned to play a musical instrument (before he got a computer! thank goodness!), learned to ski, and still enjoys bike riding and playing various board games. If he's not at his computer, he likes to watch movies. If he's not watching movies, he likes going out with friends and talking about.....video games and movies!

I don't really know how much you can control the video game monster. I limit my 9yo son's computer time, because he gets angry and agitated and upset if he plays for more than an hour or two. I'm not sure how that will go over when he's 16 or 18, especially considering what his dad is like.

I would encourage any kid with a passionate interest in gaming to develop some related skills: drawing, writing stories, computer programming, game design, etc.... At the very least, it might broaden and deepen your understanding of the games. There are very few people who make a good living just playing games, but there are many thousands who make a living in the industry.

Jeninok
03-09-2012, 08:29 PM
I am really trying to encourage art with my Ds too, it always amazes me that he can barely write a sentence, but he will spend hours drawing the detail intense very creative, and sometimes really wonderfull drawings. I know the writing isn't a fine motor thing!!

I have been looking at art classes too, the problem is that he doesn't want to be told what to draw, or to build, in the case of the Lego club I am trying to talk him into.

I keep telling him that a few classes in the basics will make it easier to draw everything he wants to, and not to see it as punishment but rather a chance to focus less on the basics and be able to draw more of the things he wants to, more easily.

Lou
03-15-2012, 08:29 AM
I think there is a program where kids can learn to code and write their own video games- I'll see if I can find it. Its within his interets, but something different, a good skill to have.

Do you think he'd do that?
(I know its still screen time, but its creative, educational, skill building screen time)

I think I'd like to know more about this. :D


My dd(12) is currently obsessed with video games, old video game systems, video game characters. She likes to use her computer to make cartoons/edit photos or type stories.
She relates crafts and other non-game activities back to games.

My son will relate video games to his outside playtime! I love it when he does that! He gets his friends who have ZERO interest in video games, but like to play outside to play his OUTSIDE VIRTUAL VIDEO GAME (which appears to be exploring, tag, hide-n-seek, etc) ha ha!


My son gets so horrible when he plays video games - rude, uncreative, bored, anxious, fidgety, loud...

This is what happens to my son if he watches certain types of cartoons. Or has TOO MUCH screen time of any type. We have to limit it for him, because at this time in his life he can't limit himself. He will cry and ask us to NOT LET HIM WATCH TV. :( At least he knows his own body and TRIES to control his desire to not watch it. But it makes me realize that it can be addicting!

lakshmi
03-16-2012, 02:40 PM
@ Lou http://scratch.mit.edu/

And Jinxie What did you decide?

I hate to comment on this topic. I've read too much unschooling info.. it has warped my brain. But I am also a parent who gets upset when so much time is spent watching videos on youtube.

But i think also that my kid is like Gabi's who gets sort of cranky and rude with a lot of time on the tv/ipod, wahtever... computer.

it is odd. I get happier when I spend oodles of time reading posts and thinking about concepts like this one.

Good luck!

But I agree with your hubs, if you'r going to take it away make it like an experiment and do it for a longer time. And then ask him to write about it or blog about it.

Certainly he isn't the first kid to be "grounded" from elctronics so maybe it could hit a cord and make him famous kid author!! ; )

JinxieFox
03-17-2012, 06:19 AM
Things seem to be going better. We're throwing more *other* stuff his way, which seems to be working out well.

I'd go into detail but it's been a really bad week (totally unrelated to homeschooling or my son), and my brain just hasn't processed a lot of things yet.

So, just thank you all for your input. We've taken a more relaxed approach, as well as a "check out this new thing" approach. Um, that's all I can think of right now.