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alexdk
01-15-2013, 12:58 PM
(I posted this on the Project-Based Homeschooling forum. I would love feedback from you too!)

I have had a constant struggle with video games. My husband is a gamer and the kids follow in his footsteps.
My struggle is with finding the right balance.
I notice that the video games are taking away a lot of time in their lives. Time that could be spent on projects or other personal pursuits. I also realize that maybe video games is their project.
I am not sure what to do. If I voice my opinion, it sounds like I am "dictating" that they lower their video games time and do "other things" that interest them. I have done that in the past but don't want to do that again. At the same time, I know my kids have other interests, but choose video games or movies first. I often feel that they choose that because it is easy and accessible.
Am I just not respecting them enough? Am I to let the video games take over completely? Am I to try to gently explain what I feel?
Do I ask them for their input on an idea for a schedule? Schedules still feel like it's me "dictating" again. Their choice would be to play for hours. I have been told in the past that maybe I should give them all access. I did that and they only wanted more and more. I tried that experiments for several months, thinking that the video games would get old and they would naturally lean towards something else. But they just wanted more, it became all they did, all the time.
I am looking for opinions. Or ideas. Or support! I have struggled with this for years. Having a gamer husband leaves me alone in this. I keep worrying that my children are "wasting" their time away with these games. He doesn't see anything wrong with it because he has no other interests.

thank you .

MrsLOLcat
01-15-2013, 01:21 PM
I'm afraid won't be much help here, because my son is younger and I have absolutely no problems telling my son when too much is too much, but I can at least offer sympathy. My son is a lot like yours. Left to his own devices, he'd be an addict. Literally. He'll steal, lie, and sneak to get extra electronics time. Like you, sometimes I get told to just leave him be and he'll regulate himself, but I've tried that and he won't do it, either. He would be that kid who would die before going pee. I'll catch him up at 2 a.m. watching Minecraft tutorials or playing the Xbox if he thinks he can get away with it.

So the question I've come to ask myself is: Is it hurting his life? If the answer is yes (and with my son, it often is because he won't get school/chores done or he'll be rude to his friends or he won't get the sleep he needs to be a functional human being the next day), then I have to regulate it because it's safer and healthier for him and for everyone. It is my job as a parent to make sure that he learns to find a balance in his life, and if that means I have to hide the remotes and dole out time when and how I please, then that's what I do. If the answer is no, then I have to ask myself why I feel the need to regulate? Is it because I feel like he's not going to achieve his life goals because of games? Is it because I feel that the electronics usage is unhealthy? What's going on in MY head that makes it such an ugly thing to be on electronics all the time?

I don't have any good answers. I wish I did. I struggle with it a lot. I would insist that the kids do one thing each week that is NOT related to electronics and probably leave it at that. Not having teens, I don't really know how to deal with them yet. Like I said, you have my sympathy, though, and I hope you're able to work something out!

farrarwilliams
01-15-2013, 01:55 PM
Here, I feel like we have a relatively good balance, but it's hard to know how much of that is my attitude and rules and how much of it is the luck of the draw with kids with decent attitudes.

We do limit them most of the time. For us, I found a long time ago that I can't decide on a case by case basis whether it can be "screen time" at that moment. There needs to be a routine and it needs to be pretty set. And then it feels like the routine is dictating these limits instead of me. But I've tried to give a pretty generous limit - and when there are screens, they can do whatever they want with them that's allowed and I don't interfere. Also, that creative use of screens is always allowed - so movie making projects, art apps, sending an email, etc. are always allowed if there's not something else that you have to be doing.

One thing that I find helps us is that around birthdays and Christmas and a few other times, we'll have a couple of weeks of zero rules about screens. And the kids get to go nuts and play nonstop. And pretty much every time, my kids burn out on them after awhile and turn to other things and begin to self-regulate - they still play more than I feel like is great, but not non-stop. And I think that helps them see that when we go back to the limits, that they're good.

But, like I said, I don't know how much of this is my methods and how much is that I have kids who don't have addictive attitudes about gaming in general.

dbmamaz
01-15-2013, 02:42 PM
my kids are totally in to games. when i started homeschooling ,my husband was running a guild on World of Warcraft, playing every spare moment and staying up too late playing. he was not willing to limit his playing. so my rule was no games from when homeschool starts to when it ends. they can have breaks, but they are mostly non-electronic (i've let my teen check facebook, research stuff, occasionally even read some fan fics).

when school is over, its free time.

during breaks and crises, its full on gaming time.

i do find that my kids are happier after a day of some school and some electronics time

i do think they would benefit from less electronics time - and dh is now obsessed with cardboard war games and not on line as much except to watch basketball - but i'm still not ready to fight that fight.

Stella M
01-15-2013, 03:03 PM
My ds spends a lot of time gaming. I too feel uncomfortable dictating how his free time is spent.

I did impose a 9-3 'ban' on school days, explaining to him that he wouldn't have access to games if he was at school, so we would do the same here. He's OK with this. I also have control over the kind of games he plays. We do negotiate, but I have last word. He also has to save for games/consoles...I don't shell out for them unless it's for a b'day or Xmas,

If it helps - ds has learnt a huge amount from gaming - from spelling to social skills to design.

Also, every young adult gamer I have met - and with ds around that's a lot! - has been a lovely, kind person. I kid you not. Gaming shops, expos - patient, helpful, they talk to my ds with respect and interest. People can be gamers and be pleasant, articulate, socially skilled and employed! That put my mind at rest :-)

I do watch ds for signs that it's getting out of hand. He is always OK with turning games off, capable of playing non-game activities, interested in physical activity, helps with chores, enjoys read alouds etc, so I think we're OK for now.

Would i rather have a son out building tree houses ? Yep. But I still have a lovely boy, and I do try to meet him where he's at and show an interest in gaming. For example, this year I've enrolled in a Coursera class on Narrative and Gaming.
(https://www.coursera.org/#course/onlinegames)
It sounds like gaming is your family 'culture', due to your dh also gaming. I also think it's OK for you to claim time to spend with the kids doing things that are more your style. Or to game yourself :-)

(Don't worry, I don't game...it hurts my eyes...)

My concern from what you post is less that your kids prefer playing and more that you, the mom and non-game player, is on the outer.

Eta One thing I found helpful was ds getting advice on responsible playing from a source he found credible. For us, that is an awesome TV show called Good Games Spawn Point, hosted by two young adults. They give great advice about things like taking breaks from games, eye strain issues, posture etc. All I have to do is remind ds what Good Games said and he is happy to comply. Things like 'You've been playing for a while now. How about a trampoline break to help your body stretch out and let your eyes have some middle distance focus ?'

I wonder if your dh could be the role model for your dc ? It's valid to have health and safety concerns for children who are spending long periods gaming. Would he at least be open to being the imposer of limits in this one area ? If he values gaming, it's really his responsibility to take that on.

Mum
01-15-2013, 05:18 PM
More empathy. My kid spends A LOT of time playing Minecraft. Like Kara and Stella I ban games and tv during school hours. Depending on your HS style that may or may not work for you.

I have to say that I love and respect the attitude you have when you approach the issue. I'd be surprised if children feel like their wants and needs aren't respected with a mom who is clearly very concerned about validating her kids' independence and choices, even if you do need to put some rules or requests in place.

Sionnon
01-15-2013, 05:30 PM
We ban video games during school hours. We have daily limits on amount of time spent, and they are not allowed on them until their other chores and such are done. It is a constant struggle here. We have some behavior issues here when there is too much screen time, and not enough physical activity. One compromise we have now is Just Dance, they can play that for P.E. on the XBOX.

albeto
01-15-2013, 05:42 PM
What if you joined them? Let them teach you? Let them take you on as a "project," and learn from them - learn what they get out of it, what they're learning from it, what they enjoy about it, what inspires them, motivates them, drives them.

Gaming isn't *just* playing. Playing is how we learn, and we can learn a lot when our guard is down and we seek out things we enjoy, things we're good at. They're naturally building up those skills they are good at (that's why they enjoy doing what they do - they're good and so it's fun). The more you know about what skills they're good at, the more you can introduce them to other things that are related, things they might not yet be familiar with. It also shows them you do recognize and respect their interests as being worthwhile and genuinely interesting. It also gives you precious bonding time. :)

Avalon
01-15-2013, 07:04 PM
I am perfectly okay with limiting gaming time. If I think it's negatively affecting their behaviour, mood, or lifestyle, then I will set up whatever rules or boundaries that I deem necessary to ensure their proper growth, development, and successful launching into adulthood.

My husband is a serious, avid gamer who has worked in the video game industry for the past 13 years, and he completely supports my position. Because of his age, my husband was able to grow up to the age of 12 or 13 before any really great gaming platforms were even invented (like Atari and Intellivision), so he had a proper childhood of playing hockey, building with lego, riding his bike, and hanging out with friends and cousins. The gaming experience that is available today is more intense, more addictive, more stimulating, and utterly unlike anything that previous generations had available. I think it's reasonable for the kids to have access to the games, but not if sleep, nutrition, exercise, or outside interests are affected.

I also flatly refuse to have any violent video games beamed into my living room. My husband does play a few of what I consider "violent" games, but only on his own PC in the basement after the kids are in bed at night. Good thing he's a night owl.

As far as setting boundaries or time-limits, I look at it this way: if my kid were in school, he'd be away from home until 4pm every day, then he'd have homework, activities (sports, piano, etc...), household chores, possibly a part-time job, etc... The maximum gaming time available would be one or two hours per day, and that's approximately what I will permit here. We homeschool so that the kids can have more freedom and flexibility to pursue their goals, and getting a level 60 character on World of Warcraft is not the type of goal that I quit my job to support.

snowpeople5
01-15-2013, 08:39 PM
Everything I am going to say comes from the side of the "kid" and not meant to offend in any way, shape or form

Some people (kids included) have addictive personalities and it's VERY hard to break them off that. It really doesn't matter what it is. When I was a kid, I used to read a lot. Great, right? Welllll, yes, until it would start interfering with other. things. After we came to US, it was TV (still is, actually). It can be anything, really. I've done non-stop knitting or being on the net. I hope you get the idea - the activity itself is not as important as the ability to be able to get away from it. My parents tried VERY hard to do something about it. But I am VERY stubborn and VERY strong-willed and never learned to "stop". Yes, i do it now, bc let's face it - I can't let my kids go hungry just bc I need to finish "that page" or "that project", but it's very hard to do.

So, to answer your question - I WOULD put limits on it simply bc they need to get into a habit of doing "other" things first. I firmly believe that we can overcome many things with learned behaviour, so I would try to install those habits now. And I wouldn't go at it from the perspective of video games are bad. Simply - there is too much to life to learn and experience and do, in addition that there are things that HAVE TO get done - so, let's try to learn to balance it all out.

I am muddling through this thing called parenting, but one of the things I try to teach the kids over and over again - too much of anything is not good, so...

Sorry for rambling, I hope it makes sense. Good luck!!

Stella M
01-15-2013, 09:13 PM
It totally can be anything. People have a knee jerk reaction to gaming, but for me, reading can be just as bad. I limit my fiction reading during term time because I will sacrifice sleep and relationships and responsibilities in order to read.

I think cultivating a habit of doing other things in addition to the obsession is a good way of creating balance. For us it's the habit of daily walking that shifts us away from screens and pages and at least keeps other space open.

dbmamaz
01-15-2013, 09:22 PM
lol i suggested dh get some jigsaw puzzles for xmas and he did - but I ended up working on a 1000 piece (with some help from Heron) and it was definitely obsessive and i kept kinda double-checking to make sure it was really still ok to spend the time, but it WAS vacation after all. I was telling dh, this is why i dont usually do puzzles, i get obsessive over htem . . . he was not impressed. i say the same thing about reading books. i used to sit on the toilet reading until it was painful . . . hours after i was done doing anything . . . because i was in the middle of a book.

my boys know that if they throw a fit about getting off to do chores, that shows they need more time away from electronics - so that is motivation for them to not be too crazy about it. i used to just try to keep them busy, but i've been too exhuasted recently.

Stella M
01-15-2013, 09:30 PM
I know some families camp regularly as a way of getting unplugged. It wouldn't work for us because dh won't camp but some friends swear by it.

rueyn
01-16-2013, 11:23 AM
This is a little easier for me, because my son is still so young, but I put a limit on time for actual PLAYING. During the week (school days), he gets 30 minutes a day after his dad gets home from work (it's part of their bonding time, and dh is actually teaching ds a TON about programming, game design, and computers). On the weekend, ds gets 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon.

Ds loves to read strategy guides and can do that any time he wants (obviously ;)).

I do think there are enormous benefits to gaming, just not at the expense of outside play, books, dreaming time, and relationships with family.

farrarwilliams
01-16-2013, 03:00 PM
I get the same way about puzzles, Cara. Thank goodness we don't have anywhere practical to put them.

dbmamaz
01-16-2013, 03:26 PM
yeah, it was rough eating dinner around the puzzle. we actually had a board to do it on (dh has been using board for his games). now that Heron is gone, we might have enough room on the table . .. lol

49cats
01-16-2013, 06:16 PM
We don't do video games here (except for the occasional ones on Google, or the plug into your TV old 80s style Pac Man and Space Invaders--which are addictive enough!), but I totally laugh about the puzzles. I'm the same way. There are other things my kids do that I consider addictive or habits---one of the biggest is picking on their siblings--you know just walking by and instinctively taking something and hiding it, or just pretending to take something and hide it. We've had a lot of discussions about the things that are easy to choose spend time on versus the stuff that's hard to decide to do. Often, once we get started on that thing that we'd rather put off, we're glad we did and we usually grow. Not only that, but an hour later we feel good about ourselves versus just neutral, or even zoned. I have problems with my two older kids reading fiction. They will read or reread books all day if I let them. (Sometimes I have). I finally for the most part put an outright ban on "free fiction" during the school day. I've been known to confiscate books we own that they keep reading (Harry Potter among them). Sometimes I replace them with other series I've looked into, or sometimes I just tell them (if they ask) that I've put them in the attic. Usually they will find something else to do and not get upset. Eventually, on a weekend, they'll go up in the attic and drag them back down again and we'll go through it again. (I haven't had the heart to take their favorite books to the thrift store yet.) Perhaps you could put some of his games "away" in rotation. It doesn't feel like I'm totalitarian about it, as we usually discuss how in order to have healthy lives we have to make ourselves do the things that we need that extra push to do. And it helps that they know where I'm putting them---they're just not immediately accessible. Even better, maybe you could talk to him about being healthy about a hobby and not compulsive, and he could actually put the games away for a period, start with one day. Maybe make a bargain like "How would you like to go to the batting cages---how about on Friday we decide to put your games away for a day and instead replace it with something that improves your motor skills in another way" And/or discuss with him some things he'd like to accomplish in his life and help him design a plan to use his love of video games to reward himself when he's reached a certain checkpoint to his goal. I'm constantly setting goals *with* my kids. Or perhaps just start storing the games in a drawer, unplugged, and make a rule that every time he's finished playing he has to disconnect everything and put it away, so that it's not within hand's reach at all times. If it takes a few minutes to set the game up each time, maybe he'll choose something different more often.

49cats
01-16-2013, 06:17 PM
Sorry about the one long paragraph. I tend to ramble.

alexdk
01-17-2013, 11:54 AM
Thank you so much everyone for your answers!!!
It really helped me relax.

Kimberlapoderosa
01-17-2013, 12:05 PM
I have found it very helpful to give my DS 6 a kitchen timer when he wants to play. When it goes off, game time is over. I usually let him set it for 30 minutes. He never fusses about turning the game off, because the timer told him it was over. And he doesn't blame me, which I really like.

Crabby Lioness
01-20-2013, 11:07 PM
Me, I actually use video games to get the kids through lessons. The older children (11 & 13) are allowed video game breaks when they get through their two toughest subjects, math and grammar/writing. I prefer they play active video games and not passive games, but I figure giving their brains a break is good. The 4yo isn't allowed any games before he does his (approximately ten minutes worth of) lessons.

If the weather is nice, they're not allowed to play passive games until sunset. Either pull out an exercise game or go play outside.

arborite
01-21-2013, 12:01 AM
Our version of the kitchen timer is Parental Controls on our iMac. They are logged out automatically by the machine. We all agreed on the time limits and days, I coded them in, and no further intervention is required. This has reduced conflict in our household enormously!

dbmamaz
01-21-2013, 10:40 AM
we once tried to do parental controls on my son's pc - he went in in safe mode and disabled them. i think he was 12?

elvesandgiants
01-21-2013, 06:09 PM
When my boys were younger, we gave them 14 hours per week screen time. This counted towards TV, computer, and video games. They could use a couple of hours a day, or use it all one day, or however they chose to do it. It helped them learn to manage their time and plan for the weekends. They grumbled a lot, at first, but it worked. They learned to not turn on the TV to kill time, to choose games they really enjoyed, and to plan carefully. I think it was successful. My sons, now grown, still are careful about how much time they spend playing video games, although they might have done that without our experiment.

Stella M
01-21-2013, 06:39 PM
We tried time allocations, but it made my son sneaky. I didn't like sneaky, and even more, I didn't like that the rule - arbitrary - I made was causing the sneakiness.

Having times of day when it isn't an option seems to work better. Works better for me too.

farrarwilliams
01-21-2013, 07:01 PM
I agree, Stella. I feel like the more elaborate the system, the more likely it is to turn kids into little grubbers trying to game it out. We also have more of a routine where there are certain times of day when it's an option and others when it isn't at all.

elvesandgiants
01-22-2013, 10:32 AM
We didn't really have trouble with sneakiness, and we didn't really consider it an "elaborate system". I thought it was simple. We no longer had to argue about game time. They had to decide how to spend their time themselves. But I guess it depends on the kid. We might have to change what we do when our younger ones are older.

arborite
01-22-2013, 08:05 PM
We have had no hacking attempts. Were the kids to try to hack the controls, I would have no problem with locking them out of the machine completely, or selling it. They also have iPods and iPads, which have time-limited access to wifi (via Airport Utility). We have discussed these conditions and they have helped to draft, and then signed, agreements specifying all of this.

Left to their own devices, our kids would sit at the computer all day and night, watching YouTube or playing games. I know, because I have done the same, as has DH. Someday they will learn to (somewhat!) control their obsessive impulsives, which they inherited from us. Til then, I will help them out by constraining their choices. It's analagous to stocking the kitchen with healthy foods rather than the junk they would happily eat all day long.

Stella M
01-22-2013, 08:37 PM
Except not quite :)

Ds learns a lot from gaming and YouTube etc - everything from spelling to design to anime - so it isn't really junk food. Maybe more like only eating fruit and not enough veggies or something :)

arborite
01-22-2013, 09:34 PM
Kids differ! In our case, our gene pool has a tendency to gaming/eating/spending/drinking to destructive extremes. Be glad your kid does not!

49cats
01-23-2013, 03:39 PM
Except not quite :)

Ds learns a lot from gaming and YouTube etc - everything from spelling to design to anime - so it isn't really junk food. Maybe more like only eating fruit and not enough veggies or something :)

No analogy is perfect. I think I'd tend to think it's more like stocking the kitchen with cheeseburgers. There is protein in cheeseburgers, and they're definitely beneficial if you're starving, but you certainly wouldn't be worse off if you chose to get your protein from yogurt and nuts instead.

I had a friend once who made cheesy fries her answer to giving her kid protein because he didn't like cheese or milk. They certainly were easier.

With all respect, Stella, I don't think my opinion would change yours, but I do disagree.:)

Stella M
01-24-2013, 12:39 AM
Hmm. I don't really like being told I'm feeding my kid junk food, but whatever.

I think we are all het up about computers the same way people were het up about TV and the same way they were het up about the novel!

We panic about new things, we adapt. Life goes on. Our brains change. Yep. And in the meantime we make choices for our individual children...I simply don't agree that I am allowing my son the mental equivalent of a McDonald's diet.

Just as there are trashy books to be read as well as good books, so there are both trash and quality gaming experiences.

I personally have had to stop being so rigid on my ideas of 'good' and 'bad' to see it though, and to be prepared to explore that world and stop being - well - a snob.

Something I think is funny is that parents can be all gung ho about other things, like how great sports are..male sports culture is definitely NOT something I want my son immersed in. Sexist, often racist, violent, commercial...

Gaming culture, from what I've seen of it here, is much more civilised!

Also funny, I don't play games. Dh is not a gamer. I am just an outsider with an open mind andI always end up defending things outside my own personal zone...

RachelC
01-24-2013, 06:09 PM
Okay, so hopefully everyone can agree: Mentally, TV watching is completely passive. Playing video games are mildly active, but still quite passive. Reading is active. Also, we are seeing vision and processing issues due to so much close (screen) vision and not enough longer distance usage of eyes. I like arguments that don't just demonize video games, but use the example of what else you are missing out on while playing, so yeah, kind of the junk food thing.

Look at it like this: if a child never played video games, would he/she be missing out on something essential? No. So if you don't like them/don't want your child playing them, don't feel guilty. They will survive just fine, and as some of us seem to believe, fare better, without them.

Stella M
01-24-2013, 06:40 PM
I disagree that all gaming is passive/mildly active.

No-one said anyone has to feel guilty about their kids not playing games. I could care less who plays games when or where.

I just think it is a complete knee-jerk reaction to dismiss gaming as an activity with no value. Like all activities, it can have little value or it can have more value.

I am simply saying that I observe that for my son it has value at times.

And now I'm done with the topic and off to feed my kids some more mental crap. Apparently.

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
01-24-2013, 06:51 PM
I just heard this segment (http://www.wbur.org/2013/01/24/digital-lives-ii) about kids and video games on NPR tonight. It was written by a mom of an eight-year-old gamer. Very interesting and not at all alarmist or judgmental.

Stella M
01-24-2013, 06:54 PM
Great article, thanks for the link.

farrarwilliams
01-24-2013, 08:08 PM
Okay, so hopefully everyone can agree: Mentally, TV watching is completely passive. Playing video games are mildly active, but still quite passive. Reading is active. Also, we are seeing vision and processing issues due to so much close (screen) vision and not enough longer distance usage of eyes. I like arguments that don't just demonize video games, but use the example of what else you are missing out on while playing, so yeah, kind of the junk food thing.

Look at it like this: if a child never played video games, would he/she be missing out on something essential? No. So if you don't like them/don't want your child playing them, don't feel guilty. They will survive just fine, and as some of us seem to believe, fare better, without them.

I don't agree with all of this. I think watching TV and movies is not mentally passive necessarily. For example, there are vibrant fanfic cultures around many TV shows and I've certainly read enough film crit to know that watching a movie can be a very active intellectual exercise. As for video games, I see the way my kids play them as really active sometimes.

I also think there *can* be something essential missed out on. Think of all the resentment and regret that some people feel about the music, the books, the movies and so forth that their parents forbid them when they were young. Video games can be similar cultural experiences that people may feel they really missed out on. Of course, it's not food, water, shelter or even basic education, but it's something.

I don't mean to say that anyone should feel guilty about the rules they have about screens. More that I don't think we can all agree on these points.

albeto
01-24-2013, 08:52 PM
I disagree that all gaming is passive/mildly active.

No-one said anyone has to feel guilty about their kids not playing games. I could care less who plays games when or where.

I just think it is a complete knee-jerk reaction to dismiss gaming as an activity with no value. Like all activities, it can have little value or it can have more value.

I am simply saying that I observe that for my son it has value at times.

And now I'm done with the topic and off to feed my kids some more mental crap. Apparently.

One person's crap is another person's genius. I like this explanation:

You know, when I was 15, 16, 17-years-old, I spent five hours a day juggling, and I probably spent six hours a day seriously listening to music. And if I were 16 now, I would put that time into playing video games. The thing that old people don't understand is – you know if you've never heard Bob Dylan, and someone listened to him for 15 minutes, you're not going to get it. You are just not going to understand. You have to put in hours and hours to start to understand the form, and the same thing is true for gaming. You're not going to just look at a first-person shooter where you are killing zombies and understand the nuances. There is this tremendous amount of arrogance and hubris, where somebody can look at something for five minutes and dismiss it. Whether you talk about gaming or 20th century classical music, you can't do it in five minutes. You can't listen to The Rite of Spring once and understand what Stravinsky was all about. It seems like you should at least have the grace to say you don't know, instead of saying that what other people are doing is wrong. The cliché of the nerdy kid who doesn't go outside and just plays games is completely untrue. And it's also true for the nerdy kid who studies comic books and turns into this genius, and it is also true for the nerdy kid who listens to every nerdy thing that Led Zeppelin put out. That kind of obsession in a 16-year-old is not ugly. It's beautiful. That kind of obsession is going to lead to a sophisticated 30-year-old who has a background in that artform. It just seems so simple, and yet I'm constantly in these big arguments with people on the computer who are talking about, “I would never let my kid do this and this in a video game.” And these are adults who when they were children were dropping acid and going to see the Grateful Dead. I mean, the Grateful Dead is provably s***ty music. It's impossible – it's theoretically impossible to make a video game as bad as the Grateful Dead. I throw that out there as a challenge.
Penn Jillette (http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/archive/2009/11/20/penn-jillette-is-tired-of-the-video-game-bulls.aspx)

melissa
01-24-2013, 09:21 PM
Albeto: :_applaud:. Love this.

albeto
01-24-2013, 09:26 PM
I think we are all het up about computers the same way people were het up about TV and the same way they were het up about the novel!

We panic about new things, we adapt. Life goes on. Our brains change.

I think this is spot-on. When my oldest was a little thing, the idea that spending any time in front of the screens would be bad for him was quite popular in my circles. I felt guilty for letting him watch teletubbies for a half hour at 2 1/2 so I could take a shower. Fast forward 15 years, and he's an avid gamer, but prefers a particular computer game. My other son enjoys games on the computer and on the PS3, but given their 'druthers, they break up their time between learning and playing all by themselves (my third enjoys games for short durations of time). And why shouldn't they? Kids learn through play, and when they are offered a variety of choices, they pick and choose according to what appeals to them in that particular moment.

My kids have no restrictions with screens, none. Today I see three teenagers that not only get along well, they support each other, teach each other, and genuinely enjoy hanging out with each other. They are also vehemently concerned with protecting people against certain oppression (as they gravitate towards their own issues of interest), and supportive of all kinds of civil rights. They aren't all familiar with Les Miserable, but then they aren't all familiar with the neurobiology that explains epilepsy. They are, however, all genuinely respectful, resourceful, and responsible young adults. I don't think for a moment this is because they have unlimited screen time, but that the two (screen time and character) are not related.

mirandamiranda
01-24-2013, 11:44 PM
I think the comparisons here with reading are particularly relevant for me. My dd7 would completely read all day if I let her. Or, if her sisters were around, play - imaginative, story-telling games that I am always reading about with regards to improved brain development, impulse control etc. we are in the early days of hs and as yet I don't regulate all that much. I find it hard to pull a child away from reading, basically - especially as I am totally a book addict myself (I too am saved from complete addiction by the need to cook dinner etc).

But I can tell you that there is little educational value in "Amber the orange fairy", or Animal Ark #563. So should I check the book before I regulate? I do limit the number of certain series books she can get out of the library at any one time.

And what about imaginative play? This is also something I did a lot of as a child, and I know I learnt a lot from it just as I did/do from reading. I can see my kids exploring elements from their lives and learning in their play. Breaking up and elaborate fantasy game to get them to do something I think is important is difficult and not popular.

I am still working on setting up a good routine and I think that will help. But I do struggle with teaching stuff I, rather than my children, have chosen; even 'fun' stuff I know they love, like art. They would rather get on with it their own way, thanks very much!

RachelC
01-25-2013, 10:54 AM
My kids are like that too, with the imaginative play, also with art projects of their own design. I hate to break it up as well, and always compared what I was wanting them to do instead to what they were already engaged in, in terms of 'value.' For me, making a schedule that I explained to them and posted helped a TON. They are very young, so we don't have too much to do yet. But we read right after breakfast since that is the most important 'academic' subject for them right now. Then they get free play time, then we do math. More free play time after that. For them, seeing it on the schedule, so they know that will get another chance to play, seems to help. Also, getting reading done early BEFORE they get involved in a game has been great. I am not really interested in sitting down to work at 7 a.m. before I have even finished my coffee, but it works best for them that way.

Even though we don't stick hard and fast to the schedule, it is good to have the rough outline. If they are super engaged in something I don't want to interrupt, I can wait a bit longer to call them for academics. There are no times on my schedule, and it is super flexible.

CAmom
01-25-2013, 11:01 AM
I have a gamer husband and I am very active in two small social forums where I get most of my friend time. We use computer-based and Internet-based lessons for about half of our day. If we had a screen-time limit as a family, we'd be in trouble every single day.

I learned a long time ago that the more I ban it, the more it becomes desired. If I want my son to do something else, I have to go do something else. If I sit at the table and start laying out the Munchkin cards and set up for a game, he WILL come and play. He prefers to play Minecraft (which has dramatically improved his typing, visual-spatial and mapping skills and his social-media etiquette) and Lord of the Rings online with my DH (which has improved his understanding of relative value, trading, etiquette, cost averaging and "fairness" online). But he can and will do other things happily.

I don't think there is an inherent value in any particular hobby or project that is more than any other. Why is my reading junk fiction better than gaming? Why is reading a how to program Java book, so that you can mod your Minecraft somehow better than doing a tutorial online? Doing origami at the table (my hobby) alone, is not any "better" than building a replica of Hunger Games battle arena.

We have a few rules about how when a real life person interrupts- you stop playing and listen. But when he's gaming it IS very social. He's often on Google hangout with two or three friends, chatting and playing, talking to others in a moderated chat or learning about new games/mods/programs etc.

Sionnon
01-26-2013, 11:02 AM
If I sit at the table and start laying out the Munchkin cards and set up for a game

We love Munchkin! That will get my boys off video games anytime.

49cats
01-26-2013, 06:40 PM
I attended a self-improvement seminar with my stepson about 10 years ago when he was a “troubled teen” (so, no I don’t think of myself as a perfect parent—in fact a lot of the choices my husband and I make is because of our experience with our first jaunt through parenting the teenage years). One of the main points they illustrated in the seminars was how much people love to play the victim. If they can react as though they’ve been personally assaulted they get the payback of others thinking they’re justified in getting angry and defending themselves (getting angry has an adrenaline rush associated with it), and playing the victim also gives us the payback of having lots of others jump to our defense and that has the payoff of attention or for us.

I don’t really care if people play video games or not, I just disagree with the assertion of video games’ value as if they are a legitimate academic subject. If you think they are, then we just disagree. That’s all—we disagree. I think making an analogy that they are fruit, TO ME, sounds like equating them to something that’s a very beneficial (if not essential) part of our diet. I think most people, with the exception of diabetics I suppose, would see fruit as an essential part of the diet we try to feed ourselves and our kids every day. Also, personally, I hardly think of fruit as something that I would tell my kids they can only eat certain times of the day and something I would get upset about if my kids were being sneaky about eating over a limit I set. Of course, analogies never completely work, so there ya go, I guess.

To suggest that those who choose not to incorporate video games into their kids’ diet are somehow creating a deeply rooted depravity is also a jump, in my opinion. For me, they should be represented as the *primarily recreational* pastime that they are. My kids play non-competitive baseball---it has some benefits, but for the most part it’s primarily recreational and I don’t try to push it off to people as otherwise. Same with listening to Bob Dylan—great that you get something meaningful out of the intricacies of the music—but that time spent doing that is primarily recreational. I personally just don’t buy the assertion that video games are necessarily good for kids (and I know some here have not claimed that). Nor do I get that they need defending—everybody loves to play the victim, from republicans being victimized by democrats, to liberals being victimized by conservatives, to gamers being victimized by society in general, the religious being victimized by the non-religious, or even visa versa, or the latest I overheard at the grocery store---“tattoo discrimination” from some really rough looking youths who claimed they couldn’t get hired. Nor, on the other hand, do I keep my kids away from video games at all costs. When my kids go to someone else’s house, they try video games if that’s what the other kid wants to do. They enjoy them fine. They have a hard time putting them down. Like a cheeseburger or even cheese fries and for me, more like junk food than fruit, it’s not something I absolutely abstain from myself or “deprive” my kids of. For me, it’s something to be occasionally sampled, kind of as a treat. We, personally, have not chosen to bring the highly-commercial-latest-craze-everybody’s-doing-it brand of video game into our house and make it part of our lifestyle—but I don’t care if others do--just don’t try to sell it to me as something that makes you a better parent (by being more open minded and more technology savvy) than I am.

Sure there are good games and bad games, like good and bad TV shows, etc. When I said we don’t “do” video games, I reflect that I’m not absolutist here, we have Typing Instructor, we participated in Study Island where the kids were rewarded with a little game after getting a question right (although on retrospect, even that was not really getting much bang for our buck as far as benefit for time spent—and once the boys got over the initial withdrawal—they took interest in much more productive programs), and we occasionally play 1980s style Pac Man for pure recreation. But instead of spending $300+ on a Wii when they came out, we bought a used big string bass. I don’t think any of us see ourselves as depriving our kids—I certainly don’t. My kids have a yard and forts to die for. They get every dead appliance from washing machines to sewing machines to computers to disassemble and collect parts out of. They play multiple instruments well enough to have been asked to jam with adults who have played regularly in bands, among other things. Our family established a chess club at a local grade school and my kids were the teachers of a group of kids, handling themselves in a manner many would consider far beyond their years, after having made a name for themselves in the local statewide chess circles. My 13 year olds are almost done with every topic short of Calculus on Khan Academy. Are they particularly gifted? I would say not necessarily. They love math, they have loved chess, and they love making music with others. But one thing I do believe is that if they had things LIKE video games at their fingertips instead of things like various musical instruments lying around all the time, they certainly wouldn’t have accomplished all they have. And they are so proud of these accomplishments.

Are we technologically challenged? I wouldn’t say that—we use computers pretty extensively from Word and Excel, to youtube documentaries, to online subscriptions for our science curriculum, and using the computer/printer for art. The kids have done a good part of setting up the new computers when we buy one, or moving them. They have dabbled in the computer science videos on Khan Academy and written a few simple programs. They have figured out how to hand in materials to their teachers when we participated in the online virtual high school classes (and that was NOT easy---it was beyond me!)
Also, if you have ever said to your child that they must finish their math or take out the trash before they can play video games or anything else, you do set limits. In our house the kids have lists that they must accomplish before certain things are done—among those things is reading popular fiction or any other type of “play” for them. If your kids already always do this type of time management on their own, you’ve definitely done an awesome job parenting. Kudos! Really.

People form opinions based on their experiences and here is where mine are coming from. I admit my comment about my friend with the cheese fries might have been taken to be a little incendiary (though it is a true story), and I’m sorry for that. I just reflect on my own life and see that because I love coffee, I sometimes cite and repeat any article I find that “proves” it’s good for me—same with chocolate. Then, when I look at it realistically, I know that I’m searching for evidence to validate my own decision so I’ll feel better about it, because there are just as many studies to “prove” they’re bad for you. It’s all relative, really. I could cite you articles on how the army is using video games as a recruitment tool for combat soldiers or the sociology studies we once found doing research for a paper that said kids exhibited angry and antisocial behavior after playing even non-violent games. Or how in the last documentary I watched, the narrator, who was fighting to keep Patagonia from building more dams and industrializing vast acres that he wanted to see become national parks, made the point that America’s gaming habit used a budget of electricity equal to what the latest proposed dam would produce. And you could cite to me the studies that say the communities and camaraderie developed in the online video culture have whatever benefits you want to share with me. I’m sure some of those benefits are real and valid. Truly, sitting around chatting and talking about new programs sounds great, even to me. It’s really just a choice. I just lean to the opposite side of most of the posters here, I guess.

Stella M
01-26-2013, 07:13 PM
Your analogy was rude. However, people disagreed with you because they disagreed, not because I can call up my secret defence force...

You obviously have very strong feelings on this topic.

Ironically, I don't. My child can game or not as it pleases him.

You simply cannot assert that someone else's child isn't experiencing learning in that context. More than one parent on this thread has stated that their child does learn through gaming.

Yours don't. Fine. Feel free to take the moral high ground on that.

I have two children who don't game either. I don't choose to speak of their educational and leisure choices as morally superior or indeed, boast of their acheivements.

That's where the openmindedness comes in.

CAmom
01-26-2013, 07:29 PM
My brother is a professional game designer, my father is a computer systems engineer. Both have high level degrees and would definitely assert that they have pursued a "legitimate academic subject." They pay their bills, live happy and successful lives.

I'd be ecstatic if my son followed in either of their footsteps. He'd have a job, pursue a passion of his and be very happy.

RachelC
01-26-2013, 09:12 PM
FWIW, I agree strongly with you, 49cats, You said it much better than me. I especially like:

"just don’t try to sell it to me as something that makes you a better parent (by being more open minded and more technology savvy) than I am. "

dbmamaz
01-26-2013, 09:19 PM
look, no one is attacking people for not playing video games. We are just asking other people to stop being judgmental about the games. for that matter, i think a home made cheeseburger is healthier than a piece of fruit in a lot of ways. protein and calcium over sugar any day . . . fruit sugar is still sugar.

there is no consensus here about gaming and thats ok. Lets all just say "this is how we deal with video games in our family" and quit with the judgments and proclamations.

albeto
01-26-2013, 09:20 PM
I attended a self-improvement seminar with my stepson about 10 years ago when he was a “troubled teen” (so, no I don’t think of myself as a perfect parent—in fact a lot of the choices my husband and I make is because of our experience with our first jaunt through parenting the teenage years). One of the main points they illustrated in the seminars was how much people love to play the victim....

I love the "playing the victim" card! It always comes out when someone isn't able to control others. That you went to a seminar to teach parents how to suppress their child from have any control in their homes is very interesting to me. It suggests from where you are coming.

No one in my family is a victim of anyone else. No one in my family coerces or manipulates anyone else. For us, this includes deciding what our children spend their time on. In my family, between three kids, two of them are computer junkies. One isn't, although she has the same access. Her interests are different. Unrestricted access to something does not equal addiction. If they don't get access to it, they don't pout, cry, throw temper tantrums or anything else. Further, through the medium of computer science, they've learned the same fundamentals to knowledge and preparation for independent adulthood that your children learn through formal lessons and conventional discipline such as pattern recognition, problem identification and solving, mutually respectful conflict resolution, how to seek help from professionals when they are stumped by a problem at home. Unrestricted access to a computer has offered them unrestricted access to information, the kind that is not available locally to us. They can study very specific interests, from the neurobiology that causes epilepsy, to current Japanese cultural fads (including conversational Japanese as a foreign language). Guitar-shmitar. They'd pick one up if they wanted. We have five. They don't want. They want what a computer has to offer, well, 2/3 of them anyway. My refusal to restrict computer access is no different than refusing to lock up the refrigerator because there's unlimited access to food in there, not all of which are found on the foundation of the food pyramid. It's not like I am counting on them to make the choices that make me most comfortable, emotionally.


I don’t really care if people play video games or not, I just disagree with the assertion of video games’ value as if they are a legitimate academic subject.

Might I suggest you lack some pertinent information regarding human behavior and the mechanics of learning.


If you think they are, then we just disagree. That’s all—we disagree.

But that's not all. Those who disagree are being reminded that the victim mentality is an unattractive response to not being sufficiently obedient to those who know better and are best left in control. Those who disagree are being lectured about the value of suppressing a child's instinct to find and explore what piques their interest so they can pursue those subjects the authority in control values. Those who disagree would like to just disagree, not be corrected by theories based on faulty and missing information.


Sure there are good games and bad games, like good and bad TV shows, etc. When I said we don’t “do” video games, I reflect that I’m not absolutist here, we have Typing Instructor, we participated in Study Island where the kids were rewarded with a little game after getting a question right (although on retrospect, even that was not really getting much bang for our buck as far as benefit for time spent—and once the boys got over the initial withdrawal—they took interest in much more productive programs), and we occasionally play 1980s style Pac Man for pure recreation.

Do I understand correctly that your exposure to gaming is typing lessons and Pac-Man?



Are we technologically challenged? I wouldn’t say that—we use computers pretty extensively from Word and Excel, to youtube documentaries, to online subscriptions for our science curriculum, and using the computer/printer for art. The kids have done a good part of setting up the new computers when we buy one, or moving them. They have dabbled in the computer science videos on Khan Academy and written a few simple programs. They have figured out how to hand in materials to their teachers when we participated in the online virtual high school classes (and that was NOT easy---it was beyond me!)

This is not extensive use of computers. This is using a glorified typewriter. If your kids don't learn more, they'll be prime targets for hackers and all kinds of cyber crimes.


Also, if you have ever said to your child that they must finish their math or take out the trash before they can play video games or anything else, you do set limits. In our house the kids have lists that they must accomplish before certain things are done—among those things is reading popular fiction or any other type of “play” for them. If your kids already always do this type of time management on their own, you’ve definitely done an awesome job parenting. Kudos! Really.

I really take exception to this concept, but this isn't the place for it. If you're interested in more, I'll be happy to share.


I could cite you articles on how the army is using video games as a recruitment tool for combat soldiers or the sociology studies we once found doing research for a paper that said kids exhibited angry and antisocial behavior after playing even non-violent games.

Oh, please do.

farrarwilliams
01-26-2013, 09:49 PM
I attended a self-improvement seminar with my stepson about 10 years ago when he was a “troubled teen” (so, no I don’t think of myself as a perfect parent—in fact a lot of the choices my husband and I make is because of our experience with our first jaunt through parenting the teenage years). One of the main points they illustrated in the seminars was how much people love to play the victim. If they can react as though they’ve been personally assaulted they get the payback of others thinking they’re justified in getting angry and defending themselves (getting angry has an adrenaline rush associated with it), and playing the victim also gives us the payback of having lots of others jump to our defense and that has the payoff of attention or for us.

I fail to see how this is a useful way to introduce what you're saying. On the one hand, you're accusing someone of acting like a victim because they went on the defensive. On the other hand, as you go on, you also get defensive about your own policy about video games in various ways, saying how you haven't deprived your kids and implying that someone said you had. I don't think you realize how roundabout you're even being. You say you don't care, but you obviously do care a lot about your position and you obviously do think that video games are a big waste of time as compared to other past times. And you obviously are making a judgment on parents who allow them. I mean, you don't come into a thread like this and imply that the military is manipulating our kids through videos games if you really have no judgment.

My policy is that anything can be a problem when it's not used in moderation. And obligations come before leisure time, regardless of the perceived quality of the leisure activity. But video games aren't a special category.

TriciaJ
01-26-2013, 09:51 PM
I don't know what's going on in here, but if my child wanted to spend hours upon hours playing video games I'd have a really rough time cuz.....I hate them. But reading through this thread, its forcing me to at least not be so harsh upon them. And that's a good thing. I still kind of hate them though. I think fresh air is much better. Having said that, I bet what works for some wouldn't work at all for others. Different is good (please don't let my kid like video games....or rap music!), different is good.....

crunchynerd
01-26-2013, 10:25 PM
This looks like too hot of a topic to touch, but I will throw in my penny anyway. I don't think everyone here agrees that something being defined as an academic subject, is the prerequisite for its inherent value. Many of us, much as we value academic pontification, recognize the division of real human knowledge into academic partitions, as a fiction.

melissa
01-26-2013, 10:58 PM
Summed up beautifully, Crunchynerd.

crunchynerd
01-27-2013, 08:24 AM
Thanks! You should have seen the reams of blah blah that I had to edit out, to get it down to what it ought to have been, in the first place. Thank goodness for the delete function! ;)

crunchynerd
01-27-2013, 08:27 AM
As an aside, Original Poster, do you really have 49 cats? WOW!

muddylilly
03-04-2013, 06:20 PM
As usual, I am late to the party :) But shouldn't we think of computers-and their offspring of video games as they were meant to be....a tool? I mean really, I see my job as a parent to be that of preparing them to be an adult that will make their own responsible choices. At some point....which will be sooner than I want to believe....they will be out there in the scary world (being sarcastic here) making their own decisions.....without me telling them what they should do. I had this discussion with my 11 year old today. Yes, I do let my kids play AND I set limits at this point....... I'm not gonna argue one way or the other about educational value as far as content of the games, but I think learning to manage your time, control your emotions (yes, my kid is one of those that gets wound up from them), and play cooperatively/fairly does have educational value from a maturity standpoint. Yes, I know, he could learn these values through other activities too, and he does! But I would rather that he be exposed to the temptation of these games (because when he goes to college-guess what the kids down the hall will be doing among other things) while I still have some say, and can hopefully influence him to recognize his own behavior and set his own limits reasonably. These games are not evil, nor do they replace parenting or education......it's a box with wires and other good stuff. I happily accept it as a tool for me to parent him with. Do I use it to help him understand consequences....clean your room, do your chores, get your lessons done, be kind to your brother.....or else? Absolutely! It's highly effective.
The parents that have them in their house are not abusive by allowing use, and the parents who forbid their entrance in the home are not superior and bound to raise geniuses. Ask me about my friend whose son is "taking a semester off" from college-an expensive and highly competitive one-because he has allowed himself to get so far behind by spending his time playing a friends XBOX. And, you guessed it.....her kids were never allowed video games at home.
We get no award for being the best mother at controlling our kids.....we get a reward for assisting them to develop into a productive, self-regulating (among other qualities) adult. If you can raise your kid to be a well-adjusted genius all the while keeping video games the forbidden fruit.....that is wonderful, and makes me truly happy for your child. But I am confused as to why my friend is honestly baffled about how it backfired on her.....and tends to place the responsibility on the OTHER kid with the XBOX and the parents that raised him!
Ooooo! Will I let my kid have a beer in the safety of my own home when he's older? You decide..........that's a whole other thread!

jdubbleb
04-13-2013, 05:54 PM
To the dismay of my oldest son, Trickster, this is something I struggle with as well. After evaluating and reevaluating my purposes for homeschooling, I realized that the most important things to learn are centered around character building. Yes my kids can read, comprehend, write and do math, but what type of people are they? How will they handle internal and external conflicts?

Self-control and/or the ability to self moderate is a very important part of existing in a hedonistic world. Thus, I am fully involved with moderating my children's behavior/activities when I see them spinning out of control. Spinning out of control is of course subjective, and my main course of action is called "the shut it down" approach. Can't moderate game time, peeing your pants because you don't want to miss the next level, leaving your friends at the dinner table because you HAVE to get back to the game...SHUT IT DOWN. SHUT IT DOWN implies that the activity does not commence until further notice. My motives are based on pure love, I am your parent, you need a parent to guide you, that is what I am doing.

My son hates it, but we continually have discussions regarding self control and it's applicability to a myriad of situations. It's an ongoing, fluid conversation as are all of our conversations regarding perspectives, approaches and growing in general.

I guess, bottom line is that no one wants to be the bad guy. We don't like conflict, but sometimes we have to be the bad guy. Children are innately foolish, it's our job to establish guidelines and parameters as they are molded into the people that are to become and become again and again...

Good luck to you :-)

amy+nate+8
07-26-2017, 11:23 AM
I know exactly how you feel. Two of my boys were just like that. It really does help to have a schedule. My boys loved it because I would schedule game time and breaks for snacks. This makes it less painful for both parties. My favorite one is a magnetic, wet-erase schedule. Here's a link if you want to check it out. Products – Love My Schedule (http://lovemyschedule.com/dailyschedule-shop/)

Sydneymarie
08-16-2017, 03:47 PM
I am a strong advocate of offline learning but video games and apps are so addicting to my children. I researched a lot to find educational apps to make screen time effective and educational. The app I use for my daughter (who is 5) is called Homer! I am amazed by how much she enjoys it!!! She doesn't even realize she is learning because she is reading about ballerinas and princesses. I also like the app because it has tons of fun offline activities. Here is the link if you are interested: #1 Learn to Read Program for Kids Ages 3-8 - Homer Learn-to-Read Program (http://www.learnwithhomer.com) . Hope this helps!

kmcentire
08-22-2017, 03:54 PM
The optometrist told my kids, no more than 2 hours of screen time a day. So that's what they get. They have to decide how to spend it. T.V. shows, computer time, or video games. I made a chart that broke it down into 10 minute increments. I also allowed them to turn unused time into tokens that can redeem treats. That last part was more important when they were younger. But my 10 year old is currently only using 1 hour a day so she can turn all her extra time into a new science kit.

just-christien
03-01-2018, 10:40 AM
the struggle is real in our house. my son (just turned 9) is truly addicted to his ipod and minecraft videos. most of the time he's not even playing minecraft.

we're slowly reducing his device usage - although he only uses it during the weekend - that's ALL he thinks / talks about.